Scott Rolen worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown

Former Phillies third baseman, a consistent power hitter, was routinely honored for his defensive excellence

December 2nd, 2020

Scott Rolen, who spent parts of his first seven seasons with the Phillies, is on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the fourth consecutive year. In 2020, the former third baseman received 35.3 percent of the overall vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which was an 18.1 percent increase from his total in 2019.

During his 17-year career with the Phillies (1996-2002), St. Louis Cardinals (2002-07), Toronto Blue Jays (2008-09) and Cincinnati Reds (2009-12), Rolen batted .281 with 316 home runs and an .855 OPS in 2,038 games, ranking fifth in the majors during that span in doubles (517), 11th in extra-base hits (876) and hit by pitches (127), 16th in RBI (1,287) and 17th in runs scored (1,211).

Among the 14 Hall of Fame third basemen who played in the major leagues (there are three Negro Leagues third basemen in the Hall), Rolen would rank in the top six in each of the categories in the table below, highlighting his legacy as one of the best power-hitting third basemen in the game’s history. He would also rank third in fielding percentage (.968; solely as a third baseman), sixth in doubles, eighth in runs scored, RBI, on-base percentage (.364), walks (899) and stolen bases (118), tied for eighth in Weighted Runs Created Plus (122; wRC+ is per FanGraphs) and ninth in Wins Above Replacement (70.1).


1. Chipper Jones - .529 
2. Mike Schmidt - .527
3. Eddie Mathews - .509
4. Scott Rolen - .490
5. George Brett - .487
6. Ron Santo - .464
7. Freddie Lindstrom - .449
8. Paul Molitor - .448
9. Wade Boggs - .443
10. Home Run Baker - .442


1. Chipper Jones - .930
2. Mike Schmidt - .908
3. Eddie Mathews - .885
4. Wade Boggs - .858
5. George Brett - .857
6. Scott Rolen - .855
7. Ron Santo - .826
8. Paul Molitor - .817
9. Home Run Baker - .805
10. Freddie Lindstrom - .800


1. Mike Schmidt - 548 
2. Eddie Mathews - 512
3. Chipper Jones - 468
4.. Ron Santo - 342
5. George Brett - 317
6. Scott Rolen - 316
7. Brooks Robinson - 268
8. Paul Molitor - 234
9. Wade Boggs - 118
10. Freddie Lindstrom - 103


1. George Brett - 1,119 
2. Chipper Jones - 1,055
3. Mike Schmidt - 1,015
4. Paul Molitor - 953
5. Eddie Mathews - 938
6. Scott Rolen - 876
7. Brooks Robinson - 818
8. Ron Santo - 774
9. Wade Boggs - 757
10. Pie Traynor - 593

Isolated Power (ISO)

1. Mike Schmidt - .260 
2. Eddie Mathews - .238
3. Chipper Jones - .226   
4. Scott Rolen - .210
5. Ron Santo - .187
6. George Brett - .183
7. Paul Molitor - .142
8. Freddie Lindstrom - .138
9. Home Run Baker - .135
10. Brooks Robinson - .133

Rolen was superior defensively over the course of his career to each of the other Hall of Fame third basemen except Brooks Robinson, while maintaining offensive numbers far better than Robinson’s across the board and as good or better in many cases than his other modern Hall of Fame contemporaries. Below is a look at the career offensive numbers of every Hall of Fame third baseman to finish his career in the last half century (since 1970), along with their career defensive runs above average (DEF) numbers. This table does not even take into comparison Rolen’s superior numbers to third basemen who began their careers between the start of the live-ball era (1920) and integration era (1947), such as George Kell (37.6 WAR, 25.4 DEF), Freddie Lindstrom (27.5 WAR, 29.6 DEF) and Pie Traynor (37.3 WAR, 19.4 DEF).

Rolen’s Awards and Accolades

• Seven-time NL All-Star (2002-06, 2010-11), eight-time NL Gold Glove Award winner (1998, 2000-04, 2006, 2010), NL Silver Slugger (2002), NL Rookie of the Year (1997) and World Series champion (2006; STL).

Offensive Production

• During his playing career (1996-2012), Rolen was one of five players in the majors with more than 500 doubles and 300 home runs. Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and Todd Helton were the other four to do so.

• From 1998-2004, he had at least 25 home runs and 100 RBI in five seasons. Only nine players in the majors had more such seasons during that span (most: 7; Alex Rodriguez & Manny Ramirez).

• In 1,356 games from 1997-2006, he collected 349 doubles, which ranked ninth in MLB. During that span, Rolen had more doubles than many Hall of Famers, including Vladimir Guerrero (328 in 1,448 games), Chipper Jones (328 in 1,456 games), Derek Jeter (318 in 1,507 games) and Ivan Rodriguez (315 in 1,293 games). Additionally, Rolen’s 517 doubles rank 51st all-time in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Defensive Excellence

• His eight Gold Glove Awards trail only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) among third basemen in MLB history and are tied with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado. Rolen is also one of 15 infielders ever to win at least eight Gold Glove Awards.

• Among major league third basemen during his playing career, Rolen ranked first in assists (4,081), zone rating (.812; min. 1,100 games), range factor per game (2.75; min. 1,100 games) and second in games (2,023), total chances (5,745), putouts (1,478) and double plays (355), trailing only Adrian Beltre in those categories.

• Defensively among third basemen in major league history, he ranks 11th in assists, 12th in games and tied for 13th in double plays.

• FanGraphs’ Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF), which measures a player’s defensive value relative to league average and is one of their building blocks of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for position players, has Rolen at 180.3 for his career (average is 0). That is the second-best mark compared to Hall of Fame third basemen, trailing only Brooks Robinson, fifth-most all-time among third basemen and the 56th-best all-time among any position player. On a scale that FanGraphs designates a single-season DEF of 20 or more as “excellent” and every 10 is equal to one win, Rolen recorded two seasons with more than 23.0 DEF (24.9 in 2002 and 23.4 in 2004). Those are two of the eight highest single-season totals among Hall of Fame third basemen, and he would join Robinson (4 seasons above 23.0) as the only of that group to have multiple seasons with that many.

• FanGraphs’ defensive runs saved (DRS) numbers go back to 2002. Since that year, Rolen’s 114 DRS are the 11th-most in the majors, despite not factoring in his 1996-2001 seasons, during which he won three Gold Glove Awards. Those 114 DRS rank third among third basemen, trailing only Adrian Beltre, who has the most DRS (202) of any player in that span and Nolan Arenado (120), a four-time Platinum Glove Award winner.

All-around Success

• Among major league position players all-time, Rolen’s 70.1 WAR ranks 68th while his 21.2 Defensive WAR ranks 45th.

• From 1997-2004, Rolen’s 46.2 WAR ranked third in MLB, trailing only Barry Bonds (71.2) and Alex Rodriguez (62.4). Rolen’s WAR was higher than every Hall of Famer who played within that period, including Jeff Bagwell (44.1), Chipper Jones (43.7), Larry Walker (43.4) and Derek Jeter (41.7).

• During his career, his 70.1 WAR ranked sixth among all position players in the majors, trailing only Alex Rodriguez (116.4), Albert Pujols (91.4), Barry Bonds (88.8), Chipper Jones (82.4) and Derek Jeter (73.2).

• In Rolen’s career, his 21.2 Defensive WAR was fourth-best among major league position players. Only Andruw Jones (24.4), Ivan Rodriguez (23.0) and Adrian Beltre (22.5) were ahead of him in that time.

Combination of Power and Speed

• From 1997-2003, Rolen had five seasons with more than 20 home runs and 10 steals. Only Raul Mondesi (7) and Alex Rodriguez (6) had more such seasons over that stretch.

• From 1997-2007, he was one of four players in MLB with at least 350 doubles, 250 home runs and 100 stolen bases, joining Shawn Green and Hall of Famers Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones.

Standout 2004 Season

• Rolen finished fourth in NL MVP voting and was one of four players in MLB with at least 30 home runs, 120 RBI, 100 runs scored and a 1.000 OPS, along with Adrian Beltre, Manny Ramirez and Albert Pujols.

• His 9.2 career-best WAR ranked tied for third with Ichiro Suzuki among all major league position players, trailing only Barry Bonds (10.6) and Adrian Beltre (9.6). Also, Rolen led all MLB position players in Defensive WAR (3.3).

Clutch World Series Performance

• During the 2006 World Series, Rolen slashed .421/.476/.737, going 8-for-19 with three doubles, one home run, two RBI and five runs scored in five games against Detroit.


• He had three seasons with at least 30 home runs, 10 with 20 or more home runs, five with at least 100 RBI, six with 65 or more extra-base hits, five with more than 10 stolen bases and four with a .900 OPS or better.

• From 1997-2004, Rolen led all major league third basemen in games (1,154) and starts (1,148). In that same span of years, he was one of 27 players in MLB to play in at least 1,150 games.

Comparison Breakdown

AS – All-Star selection; GG – Gold Glove Award winner; *played in abbreviated 2020 season in which there were no All-Star teams 

All WAR numbers reflect Baseball-Reference’s valuation. All other stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs and STATSPASS.