ST. LOUIS–For Scott Rolen, it still appears to be a case of when, and not if he will be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The former St. Louis Cardinals’ third baseman fell short of the 75 percent needed for induction in 2022, when the Baseball Writers Association of America balloting was released Tuesday night.
Boston Red Sox Designated Hitter David Ortiz was the only player elected by writers in this year’s class, receiving 77.9 percent of the vote by being named on 307 ballots. Rolen received 63.2 percent of the vote, named on 249 ballots.
Rolen finished with 52.9 percent of the vote last year. He’s eligible to appear on the ballot for five more years. His candidacy has seen a boost in recent years as the electorate gets younger and more supportive of advanced metrics arguments that he was among the best third basemen defensively of his era, even if his offensive numbers trailed off starting in 2005. Rolen finished his career with Cincinnati in 2012, with 2077 hits, 316 home runs, 8 gold gloves, 7 all-star game appearances, and a Rookie of the Year award in 17 seasons with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Reds.
Rolen has more votes than anyone who is eligible to return to the ballot next winter, but even if he matches the leap he made from last year to 2021, he would still fall just short of the magic 75 percent mark.
The July 24 ceremonies in Cooperstown will still have a St. Louis connection. Former pitcher Jim Kaat and infielder-outfielder Minnie Minoso were voted in by a veteran’s committee. Minoso died in 2015. The Veterans committee would also be the next step for two controversial players who have now exhausted their eligibility with writers, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both had their accomplishments and legacies tarnished by allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds has denied knowingly using PEDs, while Clemens has denied taking them outright.
Ortiz also comes with some PED baggage, but voters are less bothered by the more shaky evidence of his use. His lone reported positive test for PEDs came during survey testing in 2003 that was supposed to be anonymous and used to determine whether to institute regular testing. Ortiz denied using steroids, and Commissioner Rob Manfred said in 2016 “I think it would be wrong” to exclude him from the Hall of Fame based on that lone test.
BBWAA members are instructed to elect Hall members “based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” Nobody was selected last year, with former Red Sox and Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling coming closest. This was also Schilling’s final year on the writer’s ballot.