Scott Rolen Elected To Baseball Hall Of Fame, Voters Again Leave Meat On The Bone

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The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) has again completed its annual Hall of Fame voting responsibilities…..and has again offered the barest minimum of results, electing only 3B Scott Rolen.

I guess that’s better than two years ago, when they elected no one, and it’s also better than last season when they elected only David Ortiz, a lesser player than many others on that ballot.

Or maybe it’s not a better result after all. This has nothing to do with Rolen, a deserving Hall of Famer any way you slice it. He was a dynamic two-way player, one of the best hot corner defenders ever and a feared power hitter (.490 SLG, 517 2B, 316 HR). Detractors might note his relatively ordinary counting stats and lack of durability, but he clears the Hall of Fame bar easily. Guys with 70.1 career bWAR belong in the Hall.

But there again is no excuse for not sweeping more deserving members into the Hall this time around. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were all off of the ballot this year, only to again be bypassed in the Contemporary Era voting that elected the vastly inferior Fred McGriff. I’ve got nothing against the Crime Dog, but he simply isn’t in the same league as those players. But I digress.

Last year, BBWAA members voted for an average of 7.11 players per ballot, the most since they listed 8.01 players per ballot back in 2019. Now they should have used more of that roughly 30% unused ballot capacity – by my count, there were about 12 deserving players on last year’s ballot.

This year, I though there were fewer, say nine deserving names on the ballot. I would have voted for Rolen, Todd Helton (just missed with 72.2%), Andruw Jones (58.1%), Gary Sheffield (55.0%), Carlos Beltran (46.5%), Jeff Kent (46.5% in his last year of eligibility), Alex Rodriguez (37.5%), Manny Ramirez (33.2%) and Bobby Abreu (15.4%). I’m a no on Billy Wagner (68.1%), I’m sure many of you are out on Abreu. Vive le difference.

What did Hall voters decide to do? To drop back to just below the 2021 number of votes per ballot (5.90). Only 5.86 votes per ballot were cast this time around, the lowest since………2012?

So with most of the thorny steroid era cases off of the ballot, the voters did not take advantage of the situation and sweep some deserving players into the Hall.

But should we be surprised? The writers’ ham-handed handling of the power-swollen early 2000s should not be glossed over. I have absolutely no problem keeping out players whose use or suspected use of steroids made their numbers Hall-worthy. McGwire? Out. Sosa? Out. Palmeiro, tough call, but out.

But Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez? You’re kidding me, right?

Bonds and Clemens are on the very short list of greatest players I’ve ever laid eyes upon. A Hall without them lacks legitimacy. A-Rod is not quite at their level, but he’s close. Manny’s a little bit closer call, but he’s one of the best natural hitters I’ve ever seen. I first saw him play as a teenager in the High-A Carolina League, and that was no steroid guy. He was the complete offensive package already, with inexplicable all-fields power that belied his stature.

But the BBWAA and the various Veterans Committees are going to continue tell us that these guys and Schilling (whose politics they didn’t like) don’t belong, and Harold Baines, Jack Morris, Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith and McGriff do? The Contemporary Era committee almost put Dale Murphy in along with McGriff, ahead of Bonds, Clemens and Schilling. Again, great guy, but no comparison.

Yes, the composition of the BBWAA is in the midst of a major generational change, and I do believe that things are in the early stages of getting better. Most of the steroid era’s baggage was dropped in their collective lap, and soon it will all be in the hands of the Veterans’ Committees, who haven’t inspired anyone with their work to date. I do believe that the “right” players of the recent past and present will eventually be enshrined in the Hall. Next year, Adrian Beltre, Chase Utley and Joe Mauer join the ballot. Beltre should be an easy Year One call, joining Wagner, Helton and hopefully Sheffield in his last year of eligibility. Jones and Beltran should get in the following year, along with Ichiro Suzuki, who along with CC Sabathia will appear on the ballot for the first time in 2025.

But I hope that the damage hasn’t already been done. The job of Hall of Fame voters is to VOTE PLAYERS INTO THE HALL OF FAME. There are plenty of other deserving players (Lou Whitaker, anyone?) with no controversy of any form in their background. The current mechanism of the writers passing on their headaches to the Veterans’ Committees, who then……elect the least deserving player(s) on their ballot into the Hall simply must end. This isn’t Frankie Frisch getting all of his buddies into the Hall just yet, but it’s getting close.

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