NEW YORK — One of many weakest ballots in latest reminiscence proved to be the proper car for Scott Rolen to make a historic leap to Corridor of Fame immortality on Tuesday.
In turning into solely the 18th third baseman elected to the Corridor, Rolen can also be the primary participant in historical past to obtain lower than 17% in his first yr on the Baseball Writers Affiliation poll and go on to finally make it. Because it was, he made it by a scant 5 votes, leaping to 76.3% from the 63.2% he obtained final yr.
Undoubtedly, the gentle poll, wherein there weren’t any no-brainers, was a boon to all of high vote-getters from final yr, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner particularly, who moved to the doorstep of election. Helton jumped from 52% to 72.2% and Wagner from 51% to 68.1%.
What stays mystifying, nonetheless, is the writers’ continued lack of help for Jeff Kent, the all-time house run chief for second basemen, who capped out at 46.5% (from 32.7% final yr) in his tenth and last yr on the poll. Considerably stunning was Carlos Beltran receiving simply 46.5% in his first yr of eligibility regardless of having extra hits (2,725) than anybody on the poll and one of many best postseason resumes (.307, 16 homers, 42 RBIs, 45 runs and a 1.021 OPS in 65 video games) of any participant in historical past.
Clearly, Beltran paid (no less than initially) the worth for his main function within the 2017 Astros dishonest scandal, simply as BALCO steroids scandal-tainted Gary Sheffield — who had essentially the most homers (509), RBIs (1,676) and runs (1,636) of anybody on the poll — made a pleasant leap from 40.6% to 55% however continues to be approach wanting election. The knock on Helton, the profession Rockie who will virtually certainly be elected subsequent yr, has at all times been the disparity of his stats away from hitter-friendly Coors Discipline (the place he hit .345 with a 1.048 OPS). And but, his .855 highway OPS is larger than first-ballot Corridor of Famers Dave Winfield, George Brett, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn and Al Kaline.
As for Rolen, who will probably be becoming a member of Fred McGriff (elected by the Up to date Period veterans committee in December), on the stage subsequent July in Cooperstown, in 17 seasons, with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds, his calling card was his protection. He gained eight Gold Gloves, and led NL third basemen twice in putouts and assists and completed within the high 5 in assists eight instances and putouts six instances. He was a superb offensive participant, too, however due to accidents his lifetime totals (.281, 316 HR, 2,077 hits, 1,211 runs, .855 OPS) pale compared to the opposite hitters on the poll.
Sadly, Rolen performed 150 or extra video games solely 5 instances in his profession and within the MVP voting had just one high 10 end (a fourth in 2004). Against this, Kent had 4 top-10 MVP finishes together with a win in 2000. For what it’s value to Kent, the very best McGriff ever acquired on the writers poll was 39.8% in his tenth and last yr on the poll in 2019 earlier than being elected unanimously by the Up to date Committee. It could not be all stunning if Kent will get the same therapy when he comes up on the Up to date ERA poll in three years.
Little question, the Corridor of Fame hierarchy breathed a sigh of aid that the Baseball Writers didn’t throw a shutout this yr. Subsequent yr will probably be vastly totally different when no less than two no-brainers, third baseman Adrian Beltre (3,166 hits, 477 homers, 5 top-10 MVP finishes) and Twins longtime All-Star catcher Joe Mauer (three batting titles) are eligible for the primary time, when on the identical time Helton and Wagner also needs to get in.