ST. LOUIS — One of the greatest players to ever wear the Cardinals uniform is heading to Cooperstown. On Tuesday, third baseman Scott Rolen was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Rolen was elected with 76.3% of the vote on the BBWAA ballot. Players need 75% to be elected. Rolen made the cut by just five votes. Rolen will be inducted alongside Fred McGriff, who was elected by the contemporary baseball era committee, on July 23 in Cooperstown.
The third baseman is regarded as one of the greatest defensive wizards at his position in the history of baseball, winning eight Gold Glove Awards. Only Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Nolan Arenado have won more.
Rolen is just the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall of Fame, the fewest of any position.
Rolen played 17 years in the majors for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. For his career, he hit .281 with an OPS of .855, 2,077 hits, 517 doubles, 316 home runs and 1,287 RBI. He was a seven-time all-star and won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2006. Rolen was elected to the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2019.
“On behalf of the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization, I would like to congratulate Scott Rolen on the well-deserved honor of being selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. “Scott was a cornerstone of our infield and lineup during his six seasons in St. Louis, and helped create many fond memories as part of the great Cardinals teams of the mid-2000s.”
Rolen, a standout three-sport athlete at Jasper (Ind.) High School in baseball, basketball and tennis, was originally drafted and signed by the Phillies in the second round of the 1993 MLB Draft. He played in 325 minor league games before making an instant impact in the Major Leagues with his debut on August 1, 1996, versus the Cardinals, starting and playing both ends of a doubleheader at Veterans Stadium.
On July 29, 2002, Rolen was traded to the Cardinals and played parts of six seasons helping lead the Redbirds to four postseason appearances, including two World Series and the 2006 World Series Championship.
His finest season came in 2004, during his age-29 season, when he set career-highs in home runs (34), RBI (124), batting average (.314), on-base percentage (.409), slugging percentage (.598), OPS (1.007) and bWAR (9.2), while finishing fourth in NL MVP voting alongside MV3 teammates Albert Pujols (3rd) and Jim Edmonds (5th).
In Game Seven of the 2004 National League Championship Series, Rolen’s two-run home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Roger Clemens in the 6th inning, broke a 2-2 tie, shaking Busch Stadium II and sending the Cardinals to their first World Series in 17 years. Rolen played in 32 postseason games for the Cardinals and concluded his postseason efforts by hitting safely in his final 10 postseason games, scoring a run in nine of them.
Rolen concluded his career with parts of two seasons (2008-09) with Toronto and four years (2009-12) in Cincinnati.
Former Cardinal Carlos Beltran received 46.5% of the vote in his first year on the BBWAA ballot. Another former Cardinal, Matt Holliday, will be eligible next year.
Former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton fell just short of election, getting 72.2% of the vote. Closer Billy Wagner garnered 68.1%.
Rolen will become the 54th individual with ties to the Cardinals organization to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.