Is Scott Rolen Famous Enough For Cooperstown?

Among many fun conversations I had while in Arizona last week, perhaps the most interesting involved a topic I’d been thinking about for a while – Scott Rolen‘s chances of getting elected to the Hall Of Fame. Rolen’s 12th on the list of career WAR by third baseman with +71.6, and that kind of total is generally good enough to get you elected. Given that he’s still reasonably productive and should have a few more years to add value, I think Rolen has a really strong case for election.

But if we change the question from “should Rolen get in?” to “will Rolen get in?”, the story changes quite a bit. Whether right or wrong, BBWAA voters still lean heavily on the results of seasonal awards, and Rolen has not been a guy that has done all that well in those categories. He’s made only six all-star games in 14 seasons and only finished in the top 25 in MVP voting four times, topping out at fourth in 2004 – the only year he cracked the top 10. Despite some excellent seasons, Rolen’s skillset is generally undervalued and he has spent most of his career with teams who haven’t made the postseason. Because he never posted eye-popping offensive numbers, he was easy to overlook, and that’s basically what happened.

Trying to find a Hall-Of-Famer who was similarly ignored by awards voters during his career is a challenge. Among somewhat recent electees, the only similar players in awards results is Tony Perez. Like Rolen, Perez only had one season where he was considered a legitimate MVP candidate, made just seven all-star appearances, and was generally considered a good player on teams with more notable stars. It took Perez nine years to get elected, and he got an awful lot of help from his Big Red Machine teammates and their lobbying efforts.

Besides Perez, most of the guys with Rolen’s pedigree are on the outside looking in. Tim Raines was similarly excellent, but also mostly overlooked during his career. Lou Whitaker fits a similar mold, and he fell off the ballot after his first year of eligibility. Perhaps the most disheartening comparison for Rolen supporters is Ron Santo. Santo beats Rolen nearly across the board, accumulated almost +80 WAR during a terrific career, finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four different times, and still couldn’t get elected. If Rolen has several more productive seasons before retiring, his career will mirror Santo’s, and we have a good amount of history that shows how much the BBWAA likes to vote for this kind of player.

Given that there are only 14 third baseman in the Hall Of Fame, I think it’s fair to suggest that voters need a paradigm shift on the value of the position. So, rather than comparing Rolen to other corner guys, where his offensive stats won’t stand up as well, I’d like to offer the following comparison.

Scott Rolen has a career batting line of .284/.369/.498, good for a .375 wOBA. His park-adjusted wRC+ of 125 shows that he’s been a good hitter throughout his career.

Derek Jeter has a career batting line of .314/.385/.452, good for a .371 wOBA. His park-adjusted wRC+ of 125 shows that he’s been a good hitter throughout his career.

They’re pretty similar hitters overall – Rolen has a bit more power, Jeter hit a few more singles, but the differences come out in the wash. Jeter does have an additional 2,500 plate appearances, so there is a quantity difference, but it’s not so large that Jeter should be a slam dunk first ballot guy while Rolen may never get in.

No, the difference between the two is on defense. Despite the fact that Rolen has almost certainly provided more defensive value throughout his career, Jeter gets the bump from having played the more difficult position. Unfortunately, the pattern is generally to compare up the middle guys against each other, and then compare corner guys against other corner guys, but not to compare third baseman to shortstops, despite the fact that they stand next to each other on the field and there is significant overlap in the pools of talent at the positions.

Can we really argue that Jeter has been so much more valuable in the field than Rolen to justify the differences in their expected differences in HOF election? I don’t think so, and voters showed that they were willing to give credit for defensive performance based on something other than position when they elected Roberto Alomar but not Barry Larkin. Rolen is an historically great defensive third baseman, and there simply isn’t that large of a gap between a great defensive third baseman and a mediocre (or terrible, depending on your acceptance of defensive stats) shortstop.

Jeter is going to waltz in to Cooperstown in his first opportunity, and rightfully so – he’s a Hall-Of-Fame caliber shortstop. Rolen, however, is a Hall-Of-Fame caliber third baseman, and if it takes us shining light on the fact that they’ve had similarly valuable careers in order to help Rolen’s case, then so be it. They both deserve to be in Cooperstown someday. We’ve got a couple of decades to convince voters of Rolen’s greatness, so that he doesn’t become Ron Santo 2.0.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Rick
Guest
Rick
5 years 6 months ago

Rolen falls in to the Barry Larkin camp of extremely well-rounded but somewhat injury plagued. I think he’ll follow a similar path. He won’t make it on the first ballot, but will soon thereafter.

Telo
Guest
Telo
5 years 6 months ago

Yea, too much value from fielding. Seems like an easy “Close, but no cigar” type of guy.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

That’s really going to his problem for the voters. Too much of his value is derived from his defensive value, which the BBWAA just doesn’t seem to care about unless it’s a middle infielder. There’s never even been a centerfielder voted in who wasn’t clearly deserving based on hitting alone.

Scott Rolen’s destined for the same fate as Andruw Jones. Clearly some differences there, but neither of them will get into the Hall on their offense alone, and since they didn’t play a middle infield position, their defense will hardly be considered.

That’s barring the unpredictable, of course. I suppose Rolen could pull a Chipper Jones and have a resurgent, 7 WAR season at age 36 that cements his candidacy, but that’s extremely unlikely.

Steve Jeltz
Guest
Steve Jeltz
5 years 6 months ago

“There’s never even been a centerfielder voted in who wasn’t clearly deserving based on hitting alone. ”

Harry Hooper (…okay. He actually played right field.)
Tommy McCarthy
Lloyd Waner?
(And while I hate to sat it…) Richie Ashburn

Granted all four were veterans committee picks, and also, all four had something going for them other than their offense or defensive statistics. Like famous associations.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

Steve, when I said “voted” I meant by BBWAA. Veteran’s committee uses some ridiculous criteria for voting people in, it eems. Hard to justify their selections.

I was more concerned with whether Rolen (Andruw also) are going to have a chance of getting in sometime in the next 25 years.

Richie Ashburn is actually a great example of fringe candidate who never had a real chance of getting voted in because the BBWAA didn’t properly appreciate his value. Tons of value from having a very high OBP and being a plus defender in CF. No prayer for him, and I think no prayer for Rolen.

Mr.MojoRisin
Guest
Mr.MojoRisin
5 years 6 months ago

How about we put everyone in the Hall? Geez… The Hall is for the greatest of the great and not for the players who were just really good. Maybe I’m a tough grader, but I don’t wan’t mediocre greatness, I want my Hall-of Famers to be truly great.
Rolen was very good, probably the best defensive 3B of his generation, but he’s not a Hall-Of-Famer. And since, I’m old enough to have watched Santo, he is not a HOF’er either.

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 6 months ago

does Jeter deserve to get in? If yes, then why not Rolen?

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 6 months ago

Jeter was the best shortstop of his era. Rolen was a good player. Get over it.

Larry Bernandez
Guest
Larry Bernandez
5 years 6 months ago

Alex Rodriguez was the best shortstop of that era, but thanks for playing.

Diaz
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Diaz
5 years 6 months ago

Funny how “the greatest short stop of his generation” has 1.2 Fewer WAR than that just good third basemen.

cgreen
Guest
cgreen
5 years 6 months ago

it’s not even close, you can’t compare jeter and rolen. jeter’s going to be over 3000 next year with a .314 career mark, has had a solid glove for most of his career and has shown good speed/power, rolen only beats him with a few extra homers. also, jeter has 4 more WAR over rolen, nice try. jeter is a first ballot, sure thing hall of famer, rolen is not.

Eric
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Eric
5 years 6 months ago

Err, no. Jeter has LESS WAR than Rolen, see. And did you just say Jeter was solid defensively?

Diaz
Guest
Diaz
5 years 6 months ago

cgreen-
OK according to bbref Jeter has 4.4 more WAR, whereas fangraphs has Rolen ahead by 1.4 WAR. (I should have cited my source)

Jeter has however 2,500 more PA’s and is a year older. So my point that that neither player is wildly more valuable than the other is spot on.

Brian Singer
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Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

If by “solid” glove you meant “stone-like substance”, I’m with you.

Jeter had a “solid glove”? Really?

André
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André
5 years 6 months ago

How is being the best defensive third baseman of his generation (with considerable offensive talents) not good enough to get in the Hall? Who do you want in the Hall, then? Overhyped players who get lots of media attention, or nobody?

Mr.MojoRisin
Guest
Mr.MojoRisin
5 years 6 months ago

The Hall is for the greatest players in baseball, not the very good. Rolen’s a very good player, it’s not a knock against players when they don’t make the hall.

My biggest complaint against him is in the 14 seasons he has played in, (since his ROY year) he has reached 140 games only 7 times. (and two of those 7 were 142gms, meaning only 5 times did he play 150gms.) It’s a huge knock that he can’t stay healthy.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 6 months ago

True, he had trouble staying healthy, but when he was, he produced.

Koufax appeared in 397 games (started 314), playing a position that for the most part allowed him to play once ever 4 games. So if we multiply 397 by 4 to give us a rough equivalent of how many games a position player might have played we get 1588. Rolen currently sits at 1881

If Koufax can be regarded by many as one of, if not the greatest pitchers ever and an easy and deserving addition of the hall of fame, why can’t Rolen?

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 6 months ago

Because Koufax pitched at a level that was unheard of in the time he played, Rolen was merely a very good player within the context of his era during his career.

Koufax also voluntarily retired early, Rolen has just been hurt (almost) every season. Those are very different reasons for having low games totals.

Mcneildon
Guest
Mcneildon
5 years 6 months ago

@Big Jgke

Sandy Koufax did not retire voluntarily. He retired due to a chronic arthritic condition.

Adrian Beltre and Scott Rolen are not very similar.

G PA wOBA fWAR

Beltre– 1835 7518 .339 50.8

Rolen– 1881 7919 .373 71.6

Similar playing time and plate appearances, but different results.

Mr. wOBAto
Guest
Mr. wOBAto
5 years 6 months ago

@McNeil did Beltre and Rolen play in similar parks….or are you a Helton first ballot guy?

Mcneildon
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Mcneildon
5 years 6 months ago

@Mr. wOBAto

Where does this Toddy Boy Helton reference fit in? I was only mentioning that Beltre and Rolen are not “very” similar players. Are they very similar? My statement was not a value statement. I was simply suggesting that Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre are not “very” similar players. To be fair, I understand the Todd Helton reference. I have only recently seen the light provided by advanced metrics. Actually, maybe Rolen and Beltre are “very” similar. Demonstrate that to me.

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

“Mediocre greatness”?

If we reserve the Hall for the “greatest of the great” that’s a Hall with thirty or forty players in it. Forget guys like Yaz and Winfield, or any pitcher not on a par with Seaver.

You can have that kind of Hall if you want, I suppose, but one thing you’d lose are most of the debates on worthiness, which are some of the more interesting conversations going. That’s the worst of it, for me–your Hall just isn’t very interesting.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

The Willie Mays Hall of Fame.

Mike
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Mike
5 years 6 months ago

Nice piece Dave.

I’ve watched the Jays for many years and was in awe of how talented Rolen was in his brief stint here. Truly born to play 3rd base. From observation only, he seemed to play much like Alomar and Halladay did when they were here. All HOFers for sure.

Ian
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Ian
5 years 6 months ago

If the BBWAA voters lean heavily on seasonal awards, shouldn’t you have mentioned his 8 Gold Gloves somewhere?

joe
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joe
5 years 6 months ago

Don’t let facts get in the way of preconceived notions… Dave likes to trot out hyperbole about folks he disagrees with it so he can knock down the argument in order to show how right he is.

Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 6 months ago

Or…he used numbers to refute the commenter’s direct quote shortly thereafter, with ease. Whichever.

Damn that pesky evidence, getting in the way of a good tirade…

joe
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joe
5 years 6 months ago

I must have missed where he mentioned gold gloves….oh wait… that didn’t fit the story…

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

why does every single post that disagrees with dave get tons of minus votes, no matter how true it is?

TomG
Member
TomG
5 years 6 months ago

Because there’s a difference between constructive disagreement and petulant childish derision. The reason you don’t notice this is because people don’t down-vote intelligent, mature discourse.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

I love Scottie Rolen, but here are some things that I think hurt his image/popularity …

[1] He followed Mike Schmidt. There’s just no way to look awesome following the best of all-time.

[2] He’s been injured, and his managers have questioned his toughness. When his team’s trade him, no one seems to miss him that much. That part kinda bothers me because I think he plays the game hard, and in the right way (and he’s really good).

[3] In the playoffs, Rolen was injured and/or “benched” in quite a public way (LaRussa was not too discrete in questioning the toughness/attitude of Rolen & Drew … and well, now Rasmus), and his replacement Scott Speizio delivered in a big way.

I always felt bad bad Scottie in the 2006 MLCS. That great catch made by Endy Chavez? That was hit by Scot Rolen and robbed him of a “game winner” type HR that woulda/coulda been his send-off from StL, as well as, a “big” playoff moment to add to his HoF case.

mettle
Guest
mettle
5 years 6 months ago

By this logic Graig Nettles should be in, too, no?

If you keep pushing at the boundaries of the Hall every year, it becomes the Hall of Pretty Good, which Rolen was. And so was Tony Perez, and Buddy Bell (only 5 WAR off Rolen!) and Ken Boyer (only 3 WAR off Buddy Bell!)

There needs to be a line; drawing it between Nettles and Molitor seems about right to me. Rolen is on the wrong side of that line.

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

No, because Nettles wasn’t the hitter Rolen is.

I suspect that by the time he retires Rolen won’t be “pushing at the boundaries”, he’ll be comfortable inside the boundary. A HOF with Rolen in it is in no way lowered its standards.

As for Dave’s point, I think there’s a mixed standard there. None of us think the BBWAA looks at career WAR, and any relation to it is coincidental. A player could easily exceed 70 WAR but fail to meet all or almost all of the conventional measurements the BBWAA uses.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

Graig Nettles should be in the Hall of Fame. So should Ron Santo.

Mike K
Member
Mike K
5 years 6 months ago

Huge Yankee fan, huge Derek Jeter fan, and I agree 100%. Rolen at his peak was certainly one of the top players in the league, and he’s had several good years outside his peak. Jeter will go in first ballot, Rolen won’t. Is that wrong? No. I’m okay if Jeter’s extra “fame” gets him elected a year or three earlier than Rolen. It will however be wrong if Jeter, Alomar, etc. get voted in, and Rolen is left to the whims of the Veteran’s Committee.

BJsWorld
Guest
BJsWorld
5 years 6 months ago

Injuries and a perceived bad attitude will cost him votes.

That said, how can anyone suggest that a guy who ranks 12th ALL TIME (in WAR) at his position is just OK at best? Some of these comments are just crazy.

Rolen is closer to a SS than he is a 1st baseman. The guy has great mobility, one of the best gloves, and a nice arm. I have little doubt that in his younger days Rolen could have held his own at SS.

Navin Vaswani
Member
5 years 6 months ago

Scott Rolen, the greatest third baseman the Blue Jays ever had. GBOAT!

Big Jgke
Member
Big Jgke
5 years 6 months ago

Man, don’t ever run into Eddy Sprague or Kelly Gruber’s Müllét in a dark alley after saying that.

Bob
Guest
Bob
5 years 6 months ago

Its called intangibles. Jeter has more than virtually anyone and Rolen doesn’t have many. The captain of a team that wins World Series means a lot more for the same VAR

Santos
Guest
Santos
5 years 6 months ago

How many more intangibles does Jeter have than Rolen?

Torgen
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Torgen
5 years 6 months ago

Jeter has Kitten intangibles, and Rolen only has Squash Racket. Anyone can tell you Kitten is Potato than Squash Racket.

Eric
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Eric
5 years 6 months ago

OVER NINE THOUSAAAAAAAND!!!!

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

We’d tell you, but then they’d be tangible and wouldn’t count.

AH
Guest
AH
5 years 6 months ago

Well, fangraphs says Jeter is 23 IAR (Intagibles above replacement) for his career, while Rolen is only 7. Looks like Jeter has way more more intagibles.

Wait, that stat doesn’t exist.

Mr. wOBAto
Guest
Mr. wOBAto
5 years 6 months ago

Jeter equals Joe Dumars, Rolen equals Tracy McGrady the numbers are there the vibe isn’t

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

Mr. wOBAto, I’m thumbs-uping your comment just because of your name.

jason461
Guest
jason461
5 years 6 months ago

As much as this is a stupid argument, I would like to point out, that Rolen has been intangibling all over the place on a young Reds team. He’s the unofficial captain and one player (I can’t remember who) referred to letting him down as being “like disappointing your dad.”

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

If I were to make a thread posting non-obvious things that work IN Scottie’s favor, this would be one of them.

[1] He plays the game the way fans say they want to see it played.

[2] Teams that acquire him, really want him. They aren’t just “taking him on”.

[3] He was, as you said, a leader and key player on a good young, divisional champ.

[4] One of his former GM re-acquired him. That speaks to his “attitude”.

In regards to his “attitude” … JD Drew had “attitude” in StL, but not in ATL or BOS. My guess is that Rasmus’s “attitude” issues will be fine once TLR is not there. TLR is a smart manager, but he’s a difficult dude.

Rolen, like Santo, is humble and generally quiet. He doesn’t have a signature anything, and that can allow for him to be taken for granted.

I think we can all agree that how he does in CIN over the next 2-3 years will be the difference maker.

I don’t know why Jeter was even brought up. Completely different players and situations. We, as intelligent, honest men cannot use Jeter’s regular season WAR total and pretend that represents his full contributions and value, right? The guy has a full season’s worth of post-season stats. Got more rings than Mr. T. Captain of the Yankees.

kick me in the GO NATS
Guest
kick me in the GO NATS
5 years 6 months ago

Bob,

Jeter is about 8-10% (at bes)t of the reason why the Yankees have ever been WS champions. Being captain of a WS winner is mostly career luck! Had Jeter been a Royal or Pirate all these years and played exactly the same (his numbers would have been worse), and the Royals or Pirates were otherwise the same same franchise, then Jeter would likely have zero WS appearances.

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

It’s important to point out how FEW World Series the Yankees have won over the last decade despite having by far the largest payroll. If Captain Intangibles really did have Big Intangibles, shouldn’t that show up in the WS win column? If anything they should show up there more than anywhere else, no?

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

That has been my point about Jeter’s “leadership”. As the quality of his teams/mates has increased the team’s success has decreased.

When they had quality bullpens, role players, etc … they won more games, and World Series. ARod replaces Broscius, Teixeira over Tino, etc.

But, that also ccurred in a time when the Red Sox were not the team/organization they are now.

I always found it hilarious that guys like Paul O’Niell (a WS winner in 1990) would look to a rookie SS for leadership.

That is not to disparage Jeter, because to my knowledge he has never proclaimed himself to be the leader of the Yankees or the reason why they have won so many titles in his early years.

Larry Bernandez
Guest
Larry Bernandez
5 years 6 months ago

I’ve been thinking about this recently actually and for some reason couldn’t shake the idea that Rolen wouldn’t be elected. I believe that he is certainly worthy of the HOF (Right now he has exactly the same career WAR as Edgar Martinez and has at least 2 decent seasons left in him) but will be held back by the era he played in. He played for some stacked Cardinals lineups, but so did Jeter, and I don’t think I would say that Jeter was ever the best player the Yankees had in a given year excluding one or two. However he was a Yankee for life, thats what will separate them for the voters.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 6 months ago

Unfortunately, or fortunately, Cooperstown is a Hall of Fame, not a Hall of WAR. Like it or not, Jeter’s resume includes 5 World Series championships, ROY, WS MVP, All Star MVP, 11x All Star, etc. The dude defines “Fame.”

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 6 months ago

I live in Washington, DC. I think we have a Hall of War around here somewhere.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

get it, it’s a pun

Ben
Guest
Ben
5 years 6 months ago

Let me make a comparison.

(Let me preface this by saying that I really only know his name because of him being in the Finals so many times – and I only pay attention to the Finals in the NBA.)

Robert Horry, in the NBA, has won 7 NBA Titles. That being said, his other stats of note are that he is in the top 75 in career shot blocks and top 85 in career steals. He is also in the top 50 in games played. Other than that he was on the NBA’s All-Rookie 2nd team.

Does he deserve in the basketball hall of fame because he won 7 titles? Now, I know that I am oversimplifying to the point of being somewhat ridiculous here – but when looking at the stats like Dave did, it’s hard to say that with Rolen and Jeter being so similar offensively and Rolen being a better overall defender that Jeter should be the automatic first ballot HoFer and Rolen should not be.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

Us Laker fans would put him in the HOF for that shot against the Anaheim Royals.

bushe
Guest
bushe
5 years 6 months ago

For me the thing about Rolen is that he is a very good player but not just outrageously good so as to make you stand up and notice him. Also he’s played for several (4) different teams without ever really establishing himself as a “hero” to any one of them. I know that it is very subjective but I think that the fact that he’s never been the guy on a team and really headed the franchise makes him lose hall of fame worthiness. This also comes up in the fact that he’s been traded twice with both times there being questions about his personality.

I think if Scott Rolen’s player page had 14 seasons for the Phillies or even just Phils/Cards that he would probably be in. Players who go team hopping so often get held up to a higher standard than others do, I think. I just think it is much harder to get a solid core advocating and advertising for you when you don’t stay in one spot.

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
5 years 6 months ago

He’s remembered pretty well in St. Louis.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

kevin brown is a stat lock too, and a “team hopper” as well, and won’t be on the ballot next year

Enk
Guest
Enk
5 years 6 months ago

Sorry, was Scott Rolen implicated with PEDs while i wasn’t looking?

Luke in MN
Guest
Luke in MN
5 years 6 months ago

The team-hopper thing does seem to hurt guys that would otherwise seem obvious.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

I wonder, Dave, if you think World Series appearances, World Series rings, and so forth should be any part of the HOF decision?

In my view, it doesn’t matter if Rolen had more WAR than Jeter when they both retired. There’s just no comparison. Jeter was the best player on a team that won 3 consecutive World Championships. One of the best teams of all time. He was a key contributor on two other championship teams, and he’s been the face of the organization for that entire time.

This should count for something. It’s the Hall of Fame. Jeter gets in on his performance alone, but it’s his contributions to champions that makes him first ballot, IMO. I’m not saying the championships are evidence of Jeter’s abilities. I’m saying they’re evidence of his historical signficance and fame. The Hall of Fame is a museum after all.

I think it’s worth asking, “Should a fan 50 years from now know about this player?” when asking who’s worthy of the Hall. It’s far from the primary criteria. A player better at least get himself on the bubble with his performance. But rings can put a player over the top for me. Lack of rings, OTOH, is not a detriment. I’m not going to know a guy down a peg because he didn’t win titles. But I’ll give bonus points for doing so.

This is why I think Posada should make it in too.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

that should have been “knock a guy down a peg…”

Mike
Guest
Mike
5 years 6 months ago

I hear your point about the rings/history….

However, I can’t help but feel that too much is being determined by circumstance (i.e. getting to play for the Yankees) in your argument. Surely, if Rolen was part of that team he would be a legend by now, like Jeter.

Obviously, it’s really hard to look at each player in a vacuum, but unless we want the HOF to consist of only those who were lucky enough to be given a shot at multiple rings, I think you have to try.

And for the record, I would definitely tell my future son (Field of Dreams soundtrack playing in the background) about Rolen’s play at the hot corner!

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t think he’d be a legend. Rightly or wrongly I think he’d be seen roughly the way Bernie Williams is seen.

MarkV
Guest
MarkV
5 years 6 months ago

If the Yankees picked Rolen instead of Matt Drew in first round in 1993 Rolen would probably have the rings too. Should Rolen be punished because the Yankees drafted the wrong guy?

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

I wasn’t saying that Rolen shouldn’t be in. I was more saying it’s obvious that Jeter is first ballot, and a big part of that is his rings. If Rolen had his stats and played on the Yankees from ’96-’10, I’d say he should be first ballot also.

It’s not punishing him to say he’s on the bubble. It’s also not punishing someone to keep them out of the Hall of Fame. The guy had a heck of a career in baseball and made millions. That’s no punishment in my book.

My point is, things like rings are a valid data point for making someone’s case for the Hall of Fame. And they SHOULD matter. Two hypothetical guys with exactly equal WAR of 70 or so over their careers, playing the same position. They have the same exact number of all star appearances, gold gloves, etc. One guy has 5 rings, the other has none. I’m giving the nod to the guy with 5 rings before the other one without hesitation.

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 6 months ago

judging hall of fame eligibility using WS rings is the most obnoxious idea in my opinion. Seriously.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 6 months ago

why, it’s not like they didnt happen..?

Eric
Guest
Eric
5 years 6 months ago

Its not like every person on the team deserved it either, or players not on a winning team for that matter.

SKob
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

HOF voting shouldn’t be based on rings, but when a guy is so clutch in the series they start callinghim Mr. November, I think it sticks in the minds of HOF voters. It’s not that he got the rings, it’s how vital he was playing in the playoffs. He was clutch!

And let’s be honest, if Rolen wasn’t replaceable, how has he been on so many teams? I know plenty of HOFers have played on multiple teams, but the first ballot ones are generally 1-2 team guys – team leaders and faces of a franchise. Rolen should get in, but the Jeter comparison seems weird. It’s addressed in the article about comparing middle guys and corner guys separately, but many a middle infielder has been shifted to a corner or OF becasue he couldn’t hack it defensively. Middles are separated for a reason.

kick me in the GO NATS
Guest
kick me in the GO NATS
5 years 6 months ago

Is a WS a large enough sample to really call someone mr. October/November? NO! far to much luck in one series.

Has the entirety of the post seasons in Jeter’s career a large enough sample? I say, probably not still!

He has 156 at bats in the WS. That is not enough to say anything significant about his post season talents. Luck can explain much of what he has done.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

“judging hall of fame eligibility using WS rings is the most obnoxious idea in my opinion. Seriously.”

This doesn’t even make any sense. How about offering an argument.

I think everyone can agree that a pretty major point of the baseball season is to determine a World Series champion.

To then decide that one of the most important aspects of baseball has nothing to do with its Hall of Fame seems pretty ridiculous to me.

Again, I’m not saying someone should be denied entry to the Hall because he has no rings. I’m saying that rings can be something that help put a player over the edge.

Enk
Guest
Enk
5 years 6 months ago

LOL at bringing up the Mr November title. Yeah, he was so clutch in that 2001 WS when he posted a line of .148/.179/.259.

Jimmy the Greek
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Jimmy the Greek
5 years 6 months ago

Rolen is a very good player who is a good borderline HOF case and may just deserve to get in. The argument comparing to Jeter opens up two big holes, I think.

First, those pesky extra 2500 PAs. I know the answer to this is that Rolen accumulated the same WAR in less PAs, therefore he must be better. But playing every day matters, in real-life baseball. This is going to kill Chase Utley in 10 years, too, BTW. Rolen missed a lot of time, in his late peak years.

Second, playoff value. As Joe Sheehan has convincingly argued, this has to count. The whole point of baseball is to win championships. Jeter has 679 playoff PAs, where he hit .309/.377/.472. Scott Rolen has 142 playoff PAs, where he hit .216/.303/.392. That’s just a huge amount of extra value provided by Jeter.

Rolen is a fine player. You can make a case for him without the comparison to Jeter, which fails.

Luke in MN
Guest
Luke in MN
5 years 6 months ago

I think this gets it. I agree that Rolen has a strong case, but I’d even add a couple more Jeter over Rolen points: (1) defensive contributions should matter, but I’d weigh a point of defensive WAR by about 0.65 compared to a single point of offensive WAR–we just can’t measure it as accurately; (2) to some extent, at least at the Jeter extremes, fame should matter.

Brian Singer
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Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

“The whole point of baseball is to win championships.”

No. No it isn’t. We happily watch baseball games when neither team can possibly make the postseason. Millions of fans watch baseball games when their teams are out of contention. Championships are wonderful and memorable, but you and Sheehan couldn’t be more wrong on this one.

Mike Green
Guest
Mike Green
5 years 6 months ago

There have been some indications that the writers are becoming somewhat more “saber-friendly” on the whole than they were 20 years ago (Jim Rice’s election notwithstanding). It is quite possible that by the time Rolen’s name comes up in the discussion 8-10 years from now, the writers will recognize his all-around greatness.

He is actually helluva athlete. He runs very well for a big man, jumps and throws well, has a very quick first step and good instincts. At the plate, he hits for a good average, controls the strike zone well and hits for power. There is however no one thing that he does exceptionally well. You do have to take a step back and look at the whole package.

Ryan
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Ryan
5 years 6 months ago

Have you ever seen Scott Rolen play defense? I would say that he does that exceptionally well . . .

Mike Green
Guest
Mike Green
5 years 6 months ago

I have seen him many times. And yes, he is a great defender overall. It’s just that there is nothing particular that stands out, like a Mazeroski pivot, Ozzie Smith acrobatics or Brooks’ reflexes. It’s the same way with his offensive talents. He is a great hitter, but he doesn’t hit .320 like George Brett or Wade Boggs and he doesn’t hit 40 homers like Mike Schmidt…

erich1212
Guest
erich1212
5 years 6 months ago

you know who i instantly thought as a rolen comparable? don mattingly. they were both tremendous defensive players at positions that typically value offense and have injuries that limited their effectiveness late in their career. quick aside: how accurate are the uzr numbers from the eighties? i’m a little surprised that uzr rates mattingly that low.

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
5 years 6 months ago

Something about injury-prone players from the Evansville area. Mattingly, Barmes (oh what could’ve been), Rolen, Benes 2x.

Ben Hall
Member
Member
Ben Hall
5 years 6 months ago

UZR is not available before 2002. Before that Total Zone (by Sean Smith, I believe) is used. A lot of people feel that UZR (and other recent metrics that use the batted ball data that became available in 2002) are improvements, but there have also been very smart people who have argued at the Book Blog that none of the newer metrics are significant advances on things like Total Zone.

I am not one of the very smart people, I’ve just read the debates.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Another thing that works against Scottie (right or wrong) is post-season performance.

IIRC Rolen was 0-fer the 04 WS, after being given playing time.

If we’re using Jeter as a comparison, then it’s completely one-sided.

I know I go against the norm in that regard. But post-season performance matters, both in reality and perception.

If Rolen’s career WAR (which includes defense) means “he should be in” then there’s a lot of players that should be in … And the Hall will be full of guys in the 60-66 WAR range.

Keith Hernandez can’t get in despite an MVP, 2 WS rings, a truckload of GG, and being the best ever defensively at his position … And being famous.

SR could get in and it wouldn’t be a travesty, but him not getting in wouldn’t be an injustice either.

The worst thing about a bad decision by the HoF is that player becomes the new standard, and it represents a new “low standard”.

Bad Bill
Guest
Bad Bill
5 years 6 months ago

The reason Keith Hernandez isn’t in is that he was not a top first baseman. 61 WAR is not exceptional by the standards of the position. At least 25 guys who either were exclusively first basemen, or spent significant time there after moving from other positions, have more, including several who are unlikely to sniff the Hall. He wouldn’t be the worst first baseman in the Hall if inducted (can you say Jim Bottomley? or High Pockets Kelly?), but he doesn’t rank nearly as high in the history of the position as Rolen does at third.

A comparison between Rolen and Santo is interesting, but it also may undervalue Rolen somewhat, and also underpredict his chances of making the Hall. There remains a faction (to which I belong, to some extent) that tends to de-value WAR accumulated by a slugger who gets much of the WAR from tons of walks while playing for bad teams. Santo is essentially the test case for determining membership in that faction, because he spent so much of his career playing for teams so bad that their opponents could pitch around him without undue damage. Rolen’s proclivity for walks is not far below Santo’s, but with rare exceptions, he did NOT get them because he could be pitched around.

mister_rob
Guest
mister_rob
5 years 6 months ago

As a Cub fan, i can tell you that Andre Dawson was useless come playoff time, yet it didnt seem to hurt his borderline case any

As far as “the best…..of his generation” argument, can anyone name a starting pitcher who made his debut between Blyleven (1970) and the Clemens/Maddux era (1985 ish) that is/will be in the HOF for sure? Thats an entire generation of starting pitchers that wont have a member in Cooperstown (unless Jack Morris eventually gets in)

Morris had the 20 win seasons, some league leading stats, incredible postseason heroics, a couple rings, and cant get in. For people of my age group. he was (like it or not sabr heads) the best starting pitcher of his “generation”.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 6 months ago

Denis Eckersley, for one. You can certainly argue about his candidacy, but he’s in there.

You’re right though, that’s a pretty distinct era of pitchers. The 70s were dominated by a lot of guys who also experienced great longetivity, like Don Sutton, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan-guys who were throwing 200+ innings after their 40th birthday and still were very good. Tommy John was still pitching at age 46.

Seems like after that, you had a bunch of guys like Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Bret Saberhagen, Dave Stieb, Steve Rogers who looked like very promising pitchers with Hall chances that either had injury shortened careers or just flamed out.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t think you can argue about Eck. 2 way threat like Smoltz, with a bit more closing and almost as much starting.

Ben Hall
Member
Member
Ben Hall
5 years 6 months ago

I think one of the things that hurts Rolen’s perception is expectation. He had an absolutely tremendous year his second full season. At age 23, he hit .290/.391/.532 for a 140 wRC+. Coupled with outstanding defense he was worth 7 wins by Fangraphs. I think a lot of people expected him to get better and become an elite hitter. But he didn’t have another year that was of the same caliber until he was 28, and though he provided significant value through very good hitting and outstanding defense, people wanted more.

mister_rob
Guest
mister_rob
5 years 6 months ago

If you want a good comparison….look at Bobby Grich

according to B-Ref, Grich had a 67.6 WAR. Rolen is at 65.1

Like Rolen, Grich was largely overshadowed by his teammates (the Robinsons, reggie, carew, etc). Minimal MVP love, lots of gold gloves, around 7 allstar appearances. Like Rolen he was a phenominal defender. And like Rolen he was often hindered by injury

Grich has no chance of making the HOF. Right or wrong, he never did. I cant see Rolen being much different

Bad Bill
Guest
Bad Bill
5 years 6 months ago

Rolen has two advantages over Grich. One is that a larger fraction of his value has been from offense rather than defense. Many sports writers are still suspicious of sabermetric attempts to quantify defensive value (not entirely without reason), and tend to value players whose defense _looks_ good more than those whose defense looks unspectacular but comes off well in analysis. Offensive value is easier for a non-sabermetrically-inclined sportswriter to understand.

Rolen’s second advantage, and I’m surprised that more hasn’t been made of this, is that several of his glory years were spent with a team (St. Louis) that has what one might euphemistically term a higher profile with HoF voters than Anaheim and Baltimore do. I’ve suspected for a long time that if Grich had played for the Cardinals (or Yankees or Red Sox or Dodgers), he’d have attracted enough sportswriter attention to get taken seriously as a HoFer. It worked for Bottomley; it worked for Brock; more recently, it worked for Sutter. Rolen and Grich are more deserving than most of those guys, and the one who was once a Cardinal is likely to benefit from the trend.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony
5 years 6 months ago

At first I thought maybe Rolen was a case of “constantly good at everything” like Chipper Jones’ career being undervalued (one of only like 25 career .300/.400/.500 guys). Like Chipper, Rolen was also hurt alot. However, because I look at guys in their era, I’m not sold at all on Rolen.

The comparisons to Jeter are cool and all but as said, they’re different positions. Rolen would be a bad fielding 3B, Jeter would be a 3B with weak power numbers. A guy needs to either be one of the best of all time at his position, or the best at his position for his era to be in the hall of fame. Rolen is neither.

E tan
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E tan
5 years 6 months ago

It’s a popularity contest. Just because Rolen isn’t on Gillette commercials doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be in the hall.

shthar
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shthar
5 years 6 months ago

ugh.

I wondered what happened to all the people who used to try to get ken keltner in the hall.

Charles Saeger
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Charles Saeger
5 years 6 months ago

Nobody here is trying to do that.

shthar
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shthar
5 years 6 months ago

They used to.

Who’s next?

Aramis Ramirez?

Enk
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Enk
5 years 6 months ago

Comparing Rolen to Ken Keltner and Aramis Ramirez? Wow, ignorance.

Brandon
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Brandon
5 years 6 months ago

You all forgot one of the primary qualifications for getting into the Hall of Fame playing in New York. Shocking to see the percentage of “unqualified” HoFers that played in NY…

Bravesfan
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Bravesfan
5 years 6 months ago

My question for the Jeter lovers: When did he “carry” his team. The power hitters did not Jeter.

Mike Green
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Mike Green
5 years 6 months ago

“The power hitters did not Jeter.”

To jeter- 1. to make a futile late dive for a ground ball up the middle
2. to score five intangible runs every game to help your team win
a World Series championship

usage: I don’t know why Ozzie Smith is in the Hall of Fame, as he didn’t jeter even once.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

Classic. Beat me to it.

I would have added, “execute a twisting, leaping throw … turning a routine backhand grounder into a miraculous Act of God”

or

“Not getting to 50 grounders that Tejada fields in his sleep.”

Eric
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Eric
5 years 6 months ago

beautiful

Preston
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Preston
5 years 6 months ago

Actually Jeter led the team in RAR for four of the five world series winning teams. So I guess the power hitters weren’t carrying the team. This piece is about how good Scott Rolen is. But there always seem to be those who want to tear down Derek Jeter at any opportunity. He’s great, get over it.

Brian Singer
Guest
Brian Singer
5 years 6 months ago

Fluke, I’m sad to say. If you put Frank Thomas at SS he would have led his team in RAR, too. One difficulty many of us have with the kind of claim you made is, if Jeter was such an extraordinary leader, HOW ON EARTH did he fail to lead a team with the highest payroll in the majors–by far–to winning World Series *for nine years*.

I mean, how do you do that if you’re really, truly clutch?

Preston
Guest
Preston
5 years 6 months ago

I didn’t make any claim about him being clutch. I didn’t make any claim about his leadership. I also didn’t say he was great because of his wins. What I said was that Derek Jeter was the most valuable offensive player on 4 of the 5 Yankees teams that won the world series World Series. Your Frank Thomas point is ludicrous. Frank Thomas was a poor fielding first baseman. Jeter’s career UZR 150 is -5.1, which means he’s below average, not terrible enough to force him to move off the position. Jeter haters get so enraged by the praise that is lauded on him for his “intangibles”. Is some of it undeserved, probably. But that’s what happens when you stay with one team, are a class act and win 5 world championships. What you are doing is swinging the other way and denegrating a great player. A title earned by his numbers, not anecdotal non-sense, just because you don’t like how popular and well liked he is. And you understand that putting the blame for not winning a World Series from 2000-2009 on Jeter is just as big of a fallacy as giving him all the credit?

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

“Fluke, I’m sad to say. If you put Frank Thomas at SS he would have led his team in RAR, too. One difficulty many of us have with the kind of claim you made is, if Jeter was such an extraordinary leader, HOW ON EARTH did he fail to lead a team with the highest payroll in the majors–by far–to winning World Series *for nine years*.”

Wow, I can’t believe I’m reading a comment like this on Fangraphs. Has your Jeter hate blinded you to the issue of SSS when it comes to the playoffs? It doesn’t matter how good the Yankees have been. The playoffs are such a crapshoot that it’s actually amazing that the Yankees won so many World Series in that time. From ’96 to 2010, to win 5 World Series and lose two more is far exceeding expected outcomes.

Charles Saeger
Guest
Charles Saeger
5 years 6 months ago

It is pretty amusing to see Dave not mention the wide gap in playing time, or the playoff performance issue.

It is also amusing for folks to dismiss the WAR totals because they don’t give credit for playoff appearances, even though they ARE keyed to team wins.

We’re stuck with about 3,000 PA (counting the playoffs) difference versus the fact that Jeter is without question (and anyone who argues otherwise is a pinhead) the worst defensive shortstop to have a long career at the position while Rolen is a terrific third baseman. You can’t definitely say which one is better, and since Jeter is going into the Hall on the first ballot, there is no good reason to keep out Rolen. They ARE comparable in value and performance, period.

jirish
Guest
jirish
5 years 6 months ago

I have to say why are you even bothering to compare players that DON’T play the same position? Different skill sets, different expectations. Rolen doesn’t get much credit either for being a fantastic base runner because he’s not very fast. He’s one of the smartest base runners I have ever seen though. It’s fun to watch him.

I see Rolen as borderline for the HOF. If he plays reasonably well for a few more seasons, that could change.

As far as the “attitude” problems, I just want to mention that there have been a boatload of players, both past and present that had problems getting along with LaRussa and Bowa. Rolen NEVER had a problem with Gaston, anyone who says so is wrong. The Jays wanted to move his contract AND Rolen’s family didn’t adjust well to living in Toronto.

André
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André
5 years 6 months ago

Who said the Jays wanted to move his contract?

SKob
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Considering I don’t even have time to reaad all comments on this piece – well done Dave on sparking a debate. Struck a chord comparing New York’s golden boy to an above average 3B with a little longevity.

Josh
Guest
Josh
5 years 6 months ago

Chipper Jones is the only HOF 3B of this past generation. Like a lot of people said…I would take Rolen on my team any day, but he is not a HOFer…really good player though. You just do not see the dominance from him in his career. Chipper was top 10 in the MVP vote six times, won 1 MVP, won a WS, won a batting title. He was dominant…Rolen was a great defender and an above average hitter, but he was never dominant…only once in his career did he crack the top 10 in MVP vote. He is the Jim Edmonds of the infield.

Zach
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Zach
5 years 6 months ago

I agree with everything you said. Edmonds and Rolen have very similar HOF profiles, took away MVP votes from each other and both will be remembered as players on Albert Pujols” teams

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

But you’re making that point to a site that views Edmonds and Walker as solid HoF entrants.

Here are the bWAR players that have between 69-60 career WAR, for comparison.

56. Lou Whitaker 69.70 L
57. Billy Hamilton+ 69.60 L
58. Harry Heilmann+ 69.40 R
59. Luke Appling+ 69.30 R
60. Brooks Robinson+ 69.10 R
61. Barry Larkin 68.90 R
62. Tony Gwynn+ 68.40 L
63. Jim Edmonds (40) 68.30 L
64. Jesse Burkett+ 68.00 L
65. Ivan Rodriguez (38) 67.70 R
66. Bobby Grich 67.60 R
67. Manny Ramirez (38) 67.50 R
Duke Snider+ 67.50 L
69. Carlton Fisk+ 67.30 R
Larry Walker 67.30 L
71. Edgar Martinez 67.20 R
72. Alan Trammell 66.90 R
73. Eddie Murray+ 66.70 B
Pee Wee Reese+ 66.70 R
75. Ron Santo 66.40 R
76. Gary Carter+ 66.30 R
77. Craig Biggio 66.20 R
78. Scott Rolen (35) 66.10 R
79. Rafael Palmeiro 66.00 L
80. Kenny Lofton 65.30 L
81. Willie McCovey+ 65.10 L
82. Tim Raines 64.60 B
Ozzie Smith+ 64.60 B
84. Ernie Banks+ 64.40 R
85. Home Run Baker+ 63.70 L
86. Al Simmons+ 63.60 R
87. Roberto Alomar+ 63.50 B
88. Reggie Smith 63.40 B
89. Gary Sheffield 63.30 R
90. Jackie Robinson+ 63.20 R
91. Mark McGwire 63.10 R
92. Goose Goslin+ 63.00 L

When you look at who is above/below Rolen, it does make a pretty good case for him. Rolen may be one of those guys whose career is hard to judge while it’s still going on. It’s reasonable to assume that he passes Robinson on this list … but we generally know that guys that are dominant in one area are viewed differently than all around players.

Cecil Fielder Jr.
Guest
Cecil Fielder Jr.
5 years 6 months ago

If Brandon Inge hits 400 this year, I don’t think he should get in the Hall of Fame.

jitteryjoe
Member
jitteryjoe
5 years 6 months ago

I will probably be cast aside as a luddite for saying this, but this article misses the point of what a Hall of Fame is. The statement that 71.6 career WAR is “generally good enough to get you elected” speaks to the problem, because that concept has only been tossed around for a few years, and is a novel way of valuing players. It is not the case that players have been elected to the hall of fame based on their all-things-considered value, but on the exciting and memorable things they did on the field, and the folklore that was built around them. I’m sure many people bristled at Jim Rice getting into the Hall, and this is indicative of the distaste that many new baseball statisticians have for popular valuation of players.

Surely the sorts of analysis that is done on Fangraphs is useful for front-office personnel, or whoever else is trying to imagine up the kind of team that would crush it on the field, conventional predictions be damned. But that’s plainly not what this discussion is or should be about. Suppose what you propose the proper way of determining HOF inductees were real, and we took the top x % of a given era and gave them busts in a hall somewhere. That is boring and sad. People want a Hall of Fame because of memories they have of players, not of memories that, according to some, they should have had.

Bad Bill
Guest
Bad Bill
5 years 6 months ago

Speak for yourself. Me, I want a Hall that memorializes great players, and great players are not necessarily the ones that get all the ink.

Sportswriters are not in the business of identifying greatness. They are in the business of selling things — newspapers, commercial time on TV, hits on web sites. By doing so, they create synthetic memories in the people to whom they sell their product, memories that may or may not have anything to do with the reality. We (the world-wide “we,” not FanGraphs readers) can do better, and there is no reason not to try.

Joe R
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

Hah, this exact topic got me attention in freelancing.

Reactions ranging from “perfect argument, and you’re right”, to “stupid nerds you don’t care about WINNING, just stats”.

Preston
Guest
Preston
5 years 6 months ago

“They’re pretty similar hitters overall – Rolen has a bit more power, Jeter hit a few more singles, but the differences come out in the wash.”

So the crux of the argument about whether Rolen is as good of a player as Jeter relies on two things; positional value, and how much should defense affect the equation. Obviously their are currently different forms of WAR that weigh these factors differently. I believe defensive metrics when they say that Jeter is below average defensively and I also believe that Rolen is great. But what is the quantifiable value of that. We have a much better sense of that now then we did then. But I’m guessing that by the time that either of these guys is eligible for the hall fieldfx data will have given us a much better idea in exactly how much value a poor SS has vs. a great 3B.

Scott
Guest
Scott
5 years 6 months ago

Rolen should go into the hall.

ROlen gets screwed cause he got hurt when he was younger. Scott Rolen was for about 7 years Brooks Robinson or Mike Schmidt defensively at 3B. An absolute phenom.

If you go by simple facts Rolen has below normal offensive hall numbers with 300+ homers 1200+ RBIs and 1100+ runs. Nothing amazing but a decent start. Career slash line of .284/.369/.498. 8 Gold Gloves 6 All-Star appearances, and a rookie of the year hardware.

As he sits now, Offensively Rolen cannot get into the Hall. But when you factor in that Rolen was an otherworldy defender his case is strong. I would vote him in, probably would take years to get in but he would be one of the 10 on my ballot most likely. I would find it hard to believe that the only true 3B to go into the hall from this era is Chipper. A-Rod will go in as a 3B but his greatness came from his days as a SS so I don’t count him.

He’s a debateable HOF, if he repeats his success from this year over the next 2 years he’s a lock for me.

Bravefan
Guest
Bravefan
5 years 6 months ago

Scott Rolen has a 97 wWAR which should put him firmly in the Hall of Fame, that ranks 9th at the position.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

… and now we’re back to something we cannot control (but perhaps influence) … how the BBWA selectively rewards defense. Frustrating.

This is in my mind b/c the other day I was reading something about Trammell and so much of his value is in being an above average defender and an excellent baserunner … two things that do not normally gain attention unless they are in the extraordinary range, and with baserunning, especifically “stolen bases”.

I’m a fan of wWAR, and I did not realize Scott was so high on that list … probably for the same reason why we’re having this discussion … 3B defense is not given enough credit unless we’re talking Brooks Robinson … and even then I wonder how much of that is tied to his world series moments where he was throwing guys out from the 3rd base dugout.

Ryan Zimmerman may find himself in the EXACT same situation in 10 years.

The sabermetric community seems to have a much higher need for objectivity for HoF selection. The situation doesn’t seem to bother the writers at all.

Quite often it seems to be just the “sniff test”. Was Grich great? No, end of discussion. Trammel? Nope. Whitaker? If I said no to Trammel, I definitely say no to Whitaker. Now, Ryne Sandberg … that’s a HoF’er. That seems to be how it goes.

What I cannot figure out about the perception of Rolen is why we don;t praise him more? He plays the game the exact way that fans/writers say they want a guy to go about it. The only thing we keep coming back to is injuries, and that shouldn’t be that big of an issue.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

“especifically ” = unintentional creation of a new word.

especifically ™.

Josh
Guest
Josh
5 years 6 months ago

@ CircleChange11

I do not really see how you view Edmonds as solid HOFer. I just think that there is no way that Edmonds gets in if Dale Murphy did not even get a sniff. Murphy was a much better all around player. Equal or better power, better speed. Had more hits, HR, RBI, and SB. Two less GG, but had two MVP awards and considered the best player in the NL for a 5 year span. You could never say that about Edmonds even though I think he was a really good player….and probably better for longer.

If I sound like a Braves “homer” I am not. I actually made this argument knowing that I don’t think Murphy is a HOFer either so if he has better stats than Edmonds and did not come close in the voting then I do not see Edmonds getting in, but that is just one opinion I guess.

AA
Guest
AA
5 years 6 months ago

Edmonds was an otherworldly defender who was robbed of at least one gold glove by an injured Griffey, Jr. On top of that, he was an incredible hitter for a long time. He also out WAR’d Murphy by more than 20. If anyone should get in first, its Edmonds.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 6 months ago

I don’t view Edmonds as a solid HoF’er. I’d say him and Walker are in the same boat. They could get in, or they couldn’t. It wouldn’t be a travesty either way.

I said “this site” views Edmonds as a solid HoF, but then the site pretty much just looks at WAR.

I’m a Cardinal fan and one of the most annoying things about Edmonds was always running just fast enough to end with a dive (especially coming in or going to his right). Don’t get me wrong, the guy was a great fielder (or perhaps, very good and occasionally great), but Jim had a uh, “flair for the dramatic”.

He made great “diving plays” that Willie McGee caught on the run, at chest level (IMO). Of course Willie also played routine flies into triples on occasion.

Going back on the ball was a specialty of Edmonds, but he also decided to catch those balls over his shoulder, instead of sprinting back and trying to beat the ball to the spot. Regardless, credit given.

Again, great defender (or very good), but maybe not quit as good as we’d think from highlights. He also had a strong arm.

I’m glad he didn’t play in Houston. Edmonds would have ran into the flagpole twice a season, just to be different. *grin*

Edmonds was also good at the plate, mostly in homers and walks, and no one seemed to go 0-fer-3 with 3 K’s and then hit a walk-off blast like Drama Jim.

Jason
Guest
Jason
5 years 6 months ago

This is silly. Jeter is probably the greatest hitting short stop ever to play the game (at least over the course of the career). Rolen was a good, but not great, third baseman for his era. That’s why you don’t compare third basemen to shortstops.

By playing shortstop, Jeter allowed the Yankees to put premium power at third base (Arod). By hitting way above his weight, he also allowed them to get away without premium power at a power position for many years (Brosius, Boggs, Hayes, Ventura, Boone). Rolen, on the other hand was not a premium power hitter at a power position. Were Rolen capable of playing shortstop he would have saved his team from having to play David Eckstein there and he would have allowed his team to play a power hitter at third (which aren’t that difficult to come by). He wasn’t capable though.

Sorry, Scott Rolen is not a HOFer. Not close really. …why don’t you compare him offensively to catchers next. You might conclude that he’s the greatest hitting third baseman ever….

Ian R.
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Ian R.
5 years 6 months ago

First thing: who says Rolen wasn’t capable of playing SS? I mean, if we’re dealing in hypotheticals, it makes sense that a historically great third baseman could have been at least passable one position over.

Second of all, you argue that Jeter “allowed” the Yankees to put A-Rod at third base. Seriously? That’s your argument? A-Rod was (at least) a solid defensive shortstop before the Yankees traded for him and moved him over to third. If Jeter were a third baseman, the Yankees would have just left A-Rod at SS. They’d be the same exact team, except possibly a little better on defense.

Third of all, yes, you are correct that Jeter’s hitting looks better when compared to other shortstops, whereas Rolen fares more poorly when compared to third basemen. But you miss two key points: first, the gap between 3B and SS isn’t all *that* big, especially given the era (recall that Jeter had his best years during the golden age of the good offensive SS). Second, Rolen was an excellent defensive player at his position, while Jeter was a below-average (at best) defender at his position. That pretty much offsets the positional adjustment.

And fourth, to argue that Jeter is better because the Yankees had a run of punchless third basemen is… well, dumb. Not relevant in any way to the comparison between the two players.

Finally, the article isn’t arguing that Rolen is as good as Jeter. The argument is that if Jeter is a slam-dunk, first-ballot HOFer, then Rolen is close enough to Jeter that he should be at least an inductee, albeit maybe on a later ballot. It’s similar to an argument I’ve seen (hat tip: Joe Posnanski, among others) comparing Tim Raines to Tony Gwynn. No one’s arguing that Raines was Gwynn’s equal, but if Gwynn is a first-ballot guy, Raines is close enough that he should get in as well.

Joe P.
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Joe P.
5 years 6 months ago

That part about “allowing” the Yankees to put another elite bat at third? That elite bat was a shortstop and were the Cardinals the Yankees, Rolen could just as well have “allowed” the Cards to play him there.

Josh
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Josh
5 years 6 months ago

@ AA

The fact that Edmonds out WAR’d Murphy means nothing to me. Edmonds was better for longer no doubt, but at their best Murphy was a better all around player. Murphy even posted a 30/30 season. Personally I do not think either are HOFers, but I would take Murphy, a two time MVP and the best NL CFer for most of the 80’s.

Circle change is right. The majority of Edmonds “great catches” were his lack of range. Andruw Jones was the much better CFer of that era. If you disagree and you like WAR so much

Edmonds defensive WAR 8.8
Jones defensive WAR 23.7

noseeum
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noseeum
5 years 6 months ago

You can’t really criticize Edmonds’ defensive ability by comparing him to Jones. Jones is one of the greatest defensive CFs in the history of baseball. He’s second only to Brooks Robinson’s on BRef’s career defensive WAR rankings.

Edmonds was a phenomenal CF. Maybe not top 5 ever or anything, but without a doubt one of the best of his era.

Compare Edmonds’ defensive WAR to all CFs, not just the best ever.

Pierre
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Pierre
5 years 6 months ago

BBWAA really likes longevity. The last guy they voted in with <2000 hits was Ralph Kiner. I think they'll have a tough time with Rolen and Edmonds for this reason. This is also why the Bobby Grich discussion is kind of moot. He never had a chance. And why LF, RF and 1B are over-represented. Longer careers.

Also, a lot of guys may have to wait a bit while they sort out how they feel about the Selig era and all the inflated offensive stats.

Josh
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Josh
5 years 6 months ago

@ nosseum

You are right…not really fair, but people assume Edmonds was this amazing CFer because of a few diving catches made the ESPN highlights. He was really good, but people over inflate it just a tad.

I am just one of those people that believes if you have to justify a player based on XYZ, then they probably should not be in the Hall of Fame. If you mention there name and you have to think about it for more than 5 seconds, then they probably should not be in the HOF.

Rolen and Edmonds were really good players maybe even great for a season or two, but I think both fall a little short.

Not saying I am right though, just how I feel.

Joe
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Joe
4 years 2 months ago

Jeter is also going to waltz in first-ballot because of his legendary post-season success.

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