Hall of Fame voting has come to a close, and just one player made the cut — barely.
The lone player of the 2023 BBWAA Hall of Fame class is none other than third baseman Scott Rolen (76.3% of votes, needed at least 75%), who played for the Phillies (1996-2002), Cardinals (2002-07), Reds (2008-09), and Blue Jays (2009-12) during his excellent, 17-year MLB career.
Rolen posted a .281/.364/.490 slash line, resulting in a 122 wRC+. In addition to his great bat, Rolen provided strong defense at third base. According to FanGraphs, Rolen accumulated 153.1 runs of value compared to an average defensive third baseman throughout the course of his career. To put that in perspective, Joe Crede, who was also well above-average at third base, accumulated 49.6 fielding runs above average during his 10-year career.
FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference are nearly identical in their views of Rolen’s value, as Rolen accumulated 69.9 fWAR and 70.1 bWAR. In addition, according to both sites, Rolen narrowly edges out Kenny Lofton (who should also be in the Hall of Fame) for most WAR by a player born in Indiana. Rolen played a sizable role in the 2006 Cardinals World Series title, slashing .421/.476/.737 in the World Series. Many congratulations to Rolen, who deserves this high honor.
Elsewhere on the ballot, Todd Helton (72.2%), Billy Wagner (68.1%), and Andruw Jones (58.1%) were next in the rankings. Other than those who received less than 5% of votes, the only player who will not be returning next year is Jeff Kent (46.5%), who has appeared on the ballot 10 times.
Mark Buehrle will remain on the ballot, as he received 10.8% of the vote. If South Side Sox voters were in charge, Buehrle would have made it in, but alas, only the BBWAA’s votes count here. Buehrle had a 3.81 ERA, 59.1 fWAR, and 52.3 fWAR throughout his career, when he was as consistent as they come. His best season of all was 2005, which was also the best White Sox season since any of us have been following baseball. That year, Buehrle posted a 3.12 regular season ERA and a 3.47 postseason ERA, and he was the ace of a talented starting rotation. It is nice to see that he received enough support to remain on the ballot.