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This 12 months’s Baseball Hall of Fame class has a Blue Jays flavour.
Scott Rolen, a slick-fielding third baseman who performed for Toronto in 2008 and ’09, was the one candidate to obtain the required 75 per cent assist from baseball writers when the outcomes of their Hall of Fame voting have been introduced final evening. Only 10 per cent of voters thought-about Rolen worthy of the Hall in 2018, his first 12 months on the poll. But his assist rose steadily annually since then, and the sixth time was the attraction.
Rolen might be enshrined in Cooperstown on July 23 alongside Fred McGriff, a slugging first baseman who spent his first 5 big-league seasons with the Blue Jays from 1986-90 and is way more readily related to the staff than Rolen. The Crime Dog was a Jays fan favorite, notably in 1989 when he bashed an American League-high 36 dwelling runs and led the AL in on-base-plus-slugging share. He positioned sixth in AL MVP voting that 12 months and helped Toronto win the AL East title alongside the likes of George Bell, Tony Fernandez, Kelly Gruber, Ernie Whitt, Dave Stieb, Jimmy Key and Tom Henke. A 12 months later, McGriff and Fernandez have been traded to San Diego within the franchise-altering blockbuster that netted Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter, stars of the Jays’ back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and ’93.
McGriff remained a remarkably constant, if unspectacular, hitter after he left Toronto, changing into the primary participant to hit no less than 30 homers for 5 totally different groups and one in all solely 4 to win home-run titles in each the American and National Leagues. After stops with Atlanta (the place he gained the World Series in 1995), Tampa Bay, the Cubs and the Dodgers, McGriff retired after the 2004 season with 493 dwelling runs — tied with Lou Gehrig for twenty ninth all-time. Every single participant forward of McGriff on the all-time dwelling run checklist is both already within the Hall of Fame, not but eligible as a result of they’re nonetheless energetic or too lately retired, or linked to steroids.
But McGriff’s steadiness didn’t wow the writers. He by no means reached even 40 per cent of their Hall of Fame voting earlier than falling off the poll after the utmost 10 years. McGriff bought in final month through the Contemporary Baseball Era committee — one of many rotating teams that rethink candidates from a sure time interval after they’ve exhausted their eligibility with the writers (a job beforehand dealt with by the outdated Veterans Committee).
These 16-person panels are way more lenient, admitting such questionable candidates as Harold Baines, Jack Morris and Jim Kaat lately. One cause for that is likely to be familiarity. The committee that elected McGriff, as an example, included former teammates Greg Maddux and Kenny Williams and former Blue Jays government Paul Beeston. Baseball writers are actually not resistant to biases, however these have a tendency to come back out within the wash when almost 400 ballots are forged.
Great Scott!<br><br>He’s one of many best third basemen of all-time! <a href=”https://t.co/PS4lC3YkMK”>pic.twitter.com/PS4lC3YkMK</a>
Rolen bought into the Hall of Fame the old school approach, however not with out a few raised eyebrows. After being rejected on his first 5 tries, the previous Phillie, Cardinal, Blue Jay and Red was named on 76.3 per cent of the writers’ ballots this 12 months, clearing the bar for induction by simply six votes. His 10.2 per cent debut in 2018 is by far the bottom first-ballot share by any participant to later be elected. The earlier document was 17 per cent, by Dodgers nice Duke Snider.
Rolen seemingly benefited from weak competitors this 12 months. The solely even semi-strong candidate becoming a member of the poll was Carlos Beltran, a 435-homer man considerably tainted by his position within the Astros dishonest scandal. Holdovers Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez actually have the numbers to get in, and Gary Sheffield and Andy Pettitte are in all probability deserving as properly, however all 4 are disqualified within the eyes of some voters due to their hyperlinks to steroids. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa fell off the poll final 12 months for a similar cause. The prime vote-getters behind Rolen this 12 months have been Todd Helton, a primary baseman with Coors Field-inflated batting stats; and Billy Wagner, an excellent nearer however, nonetheless, a more in-depth.
Having mentioned all that, Rolen was a wonderful participant. Much of the skepticism about his Hall of Fame worthiness may stem from the truth that his abilities have been extra delicate than others’. Rolen was a lifetime .281 hitter who reached 30 homers in a season solely thrice and topped out at 34 in 2004, when he positioned fourth in NL MVP voting for St. Louis. Apart from that 12 months, Rolen by no means cracked the highest 13 in MVP voting, although he did win the 1997 NL rookie of the 12 months award with Philly.
Baseball aficionados, nonetheless, acknowledge Rolen as an excellent hitter and, above all, an outstanding defensive third baseman — maybe the perfect of his period. He gained eight Gold Gloves, and his uncommon mixture of defensive and offensive capacity is mirrored in his 70.1 Wins Above Replacement, which tops seven of the 15 Hall of Famers who have been primarily third baseman. That Rolen’s WAR seemingly performed a major position in his election speaks to the altering demographics of baseball writers, who as a gaggle are getting youthful and extra statistically savvy with every passing 12 months.