The former Cardinals third baseman appeared on 52.9% of ballots (212), a significant jump from the 35.3% of ballots last year and 17.2% the year prior. He was fourth on the ballot, with Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens the only candidates to receive more votes than Rolen.
There’s now a clear path for his election, and he has six more years to garner at least 75% of votes required for entry.
Rolen’s Hall of Fame support has skyrocketed as the shift toward analytics has become even more pronounced -- his 70.1 career WAR, according to Baseball Reference, is the highest for any eligible third baseman not yet in the Hall of Fame. His defensive skills at the hot corner and career .855 OPS have also come into play.
Some of Rolen's best seasons over his 17-year career were spent in St. Louis. He won four of his eight Gold Glove Awards with the Cards, and only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt won more Gold Gloves at third base. Rolen also hit 316 home runs and stole 118 bases. His best season was in 2004, when he hit .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBIs as part of the juggernaut St. Louis team that won 105 games.
St. Louis native and longtime White Sox star Mark Buehrle garnered 11% of votes in his first year of eligibility, more than the 5% needed to remain on the ballot. The left-hander won 214 games in his 16-season career, throwing a perfect game and a no-hitter.
This is the first time since 2013 that the BBWAA did not elect anyone, and with the Early Baseball Era Committee elections having been postponed until next offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will not be a new group inducted in 2021. But because the Class of 2020’s induction was pushed back a year by the pandemic, there will still be inductees welcomed into the Hall this summer. That group includes former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, who was elected by the Modern Baseball Era Committee last year, and former Cards outfielder Larry Walker, who was elected in his final year on the BBWAA ballot.