The hot corner has historically had a high bar for National Baseball Hall of Fame entry. But in 2023, Scott Rolen made the cut and completed a meteoric rise in support in his time on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
Rolen was the only one of the 28 candidates on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot to reach the necessary 75% support in results, which were revealed Tuesday night on MLB Network. Rolen will join first baseman Fred McGriff in the Class of 2023 after McGriff’s selection in December by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee.
Induction ceremonies will be held July 23 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
“You don’t think about this,” Rolen said of his playing days. “You think about trying to do the best you can and play for your team and do the best you can. It’s such a long road, and I never thought the Hall of Fame would be the answer.”
It is now.
Though Rolen was the BBWAA’s only inductee for 2023, he was not the only one to continue a major surge. Todd Helton jumped from 52% in 2022 to 72.2% in his fifth of 10 possible appearances on the ballot, falling just 11 votes shy of what would have been one of the biggest final flourishes for an electee in history. Billy Wagner went from 51% to 68.1% in his eighth year, and Andruw Jones (58.1%), in his sixth year, and Gary Sheffield (55%), in his ninth, both made the important cross above the 50% threshold for the first time.
Carlos Beltrán had a solid 46.5% showing on his first ballot, (Francisco Rodríguez, at 10.8%, was the only other first-timer to receive the necessary 5% to remain on next year’s ballot), while Jeff Kent had the exact same percentage on his 10th and final try with the BBWAA. Kent’s case will go to the Historical Overview Committee for potential inclusion on the 2025 Contemporary Baseball Era ballot.
Rolen was definitely deserving, and as the article notes third basemen are under-represented in Cooperstown. Everyone else from Helton down to Beltran is also deserving and will hopefully have their time soon. Next year it gets a bit more crowded as Adrian Beltre, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley join the ballot. Congrats to Rolen and better luck to the rest in 2024. ESPN and Fangraphs have more.