I was not sold on Scott Rolen‘s greatness until just a few years ago. The Hall of Fame voters are notoriously judgy when it comes to third basemen not named Brooks, Mike, George, or Wade. Ron Santo, the seventh-best third baseman of all-time by JAWS rankings, had to wait for the Veterans Committee to give him a plaque. Graig Nettles, Ken Boyer, and Buddy Bell are all on the outside looking in. Maybe that’s where they should be. But not Scott Rolen. Rolen is ranked as the 10th best third baseman, with every other 3B ahead of him already in excpet Adrian Beltre. In his first year on the ballot last year, Rolen only pulled 10.2% support. It’s up a little this year, but not much. Hopefully it will continue going up in years to come until he finally reaches that 75%.
Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards (on Twitter as @OffHiatusBBC) is a very generous man. Last week he scoured several bloggers’ wantlists and fired off packages, and I was one of the fortunate recipients. Every single card in the package was a needed card, such as the Joey Votto “Home Run Challenge” game card pictured above.
The package arrived in my mailbox on either Thursday week. I tore it opened, thumbed through the cards quickly, then set them aside because family was coming in from out of town. Then I worked all weekend, and I had plans Monday and Tuesday. I did cross off the needs Tuesday night but didn’t feel like battling my scanner, so I put that off until tonight before work. I miss my old scanner. Not the one I had before my current scanner, but the one before that. These past two scanners don’t fit a full 9-pocket page on the glass and I’m constantly battling the network connection. I never had issues with the network connection when the machine was actually plugged into a computer.
Anyway, back to the gratitude. Tony hooked me up with several Allen & Ginter cards I didn’t already have, including several from the 2011 release.
I wish I could say that was a bad scan of should-be Hall of Famer Scott Rolen, but that’s really what the card looks like. I know there are a lot of Ginter fans out there, but sometimes they just don’t work.
He also sent me my first 2014 Stadium Club card. I didn’t even have a wantlist posted for 2014 Stadium Club yet. So I had to scramble to add it to my wantlist so I could cross this card off. Sadly, it is a card of malcontent (and still unemployed) Brandon Phillips.
I used to love BP; he was fun to watch. But he got grumpy in his old age. I believe he was a detriment to the Reds’ clubhouse during his last few years in Cincinnati. I didn’t follow him after he flew south to Atlanta, or west to Los Angeles, so I don’t know if he ruffled any feathers on those teams. I was glad to see him leave Cincinnati.
There was a hefty-sized stack of cards from the past eight years, each one allowing my to cross cards off my wantlists. But the highlights of the package were the vintage cards from the 1970s.
I have wanted some of these cards for years, but have never seen them for sale locally at a decent price. I’m so happy to have the 1975 and 1976 World Series cards in my collection now. I feel like those were some glaring omissions. There were others that I thought I had, and probably did at some point, like the Joel Youngblood rookie from 1977. But they were not crossed off my lists until this package arrived last week.
Here’s the big news: Tony helped me get so close to finishing off some team sets from the 1970s. I now only need four cards from 1977, two from 1978, and one from 1979. He also knocked off the final three cards from the 1982 Fleer Reds wantlist.
This package was a definite win! Thank you Tony, and again, sorry it took almost a week to post the awesomeness!
April 4, 1975
Scott Rolen is criminally underrated, as many third basemen are. In his 17-year career, Rolen smacked the ball out of the yard 316 times and drove in 1287 runs. He was an All-Star seven times, twice with the Reds, and took home eight Gold Glove Awards. It will be interesting to see how the BBWAA treat him when he appears on the Hall of Fame ballot next year.
This is the one I was most interested in, since third base is the most underrepresented position in Cooperstown. No one should be surprised that Mike Schmidt (307.72) is the greatest third baseman of all-time by a large margin, or that Brooks Robinson (277.18) is the second-best, thanks in large part to his stellar defense. George Brett (262.01), the recently retired Chipper Jones (258.35), Eddie Mathews (244.76), and Wade Boggs (230.68) come in at #3-6. The seventh name on the list is Scott Rolen, and I have to admit I was very surprised to see him so high on the list.
Rolen began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 (note: Rookie of the Year is not one of the awards that count toward a player’s ranking in this project). He has driven in 100 runs five times, hit thirty homers thrice, but his biggest asset has been his glove.
After Rolen comes another Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor (222.43), and then two more non-Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre (221.18) and Graig Nettles (219.86) round out the top ten, just ahead of 2012 inductee Ron Santo (219.3) and 1960s star Ken Boyer (214.23). While there have been steroid suspicions about Beltre, since he has not been specifically named by former teammates or the subject of leaked test results, I have decided to include him in this project.
The reason I was most interested in third base was Buddy Bell (210.83). Bell has such an interesting case, a solid career that went downhill fast after his injury in 1988 and losing the Reds third base job to Chris Sabo. Overshadowed by the vastly superior Schmidt and Brett during his playing days, Bell finished his career with 2514 hits, 201 home runs and 1106 RBI. Once all the numbers are plugged into the spreadsheet, Bell comes in at a very respectable #13. Hall of Fame material? I wouldn’t object, but can’t throw my support behind him either.
“I know everybody wants me to play the guy who’s hot, but what happens when the guy who’s hot gets cold and the cold guy never gets lukewarm because he’s not playing?”
That explains why Scott Rolen is still getting so much playing time despite hitting .174 (16-for-101).
UPDATE: Perhaps Baker chose his mind, as neither Ludwick nor Rolen are in the starting lineup tonight.
Sometime last year, someone mentioned that Scott Rolen had a decent shot of making the Hall of Fame. Not first ballot, mind you. But once you’re in, you’re in, regardless of how long it takes. I immediately scoffed at the idea. Scott Rolen? Hall of Fame? No way.
Over time, I have warmed up to that idea some, and the fact that he is one of only three third basemen (along with George Brett and Chipper Jones) and only 29 major leaguers to hit this milestone certainly doesn’t hurt his case.
My father-in-law likes to go to garage sales, and at a recent one he “negotiated” for a free box of sports cards to be thrown in with something he wanted to buy. When my wife told me about the box, I didn’t have very high hopes…I’ve gotten garage sale boxes before, and they are full of junk wax. This one was also full of junk wax, but there were a few gems hidden inside.
Most of the box was basketball cards, but there were a few keepers even among them. Rex Chapman, B.J. Armstrong, Dee Brown, Muggsy Bogues, and Patrick Ewing were a few of the basketball cards I pulled out for myself.
There were also a few Topps Stars cards from 1998…
There was also what appeared to be a retail blaster of 2005 Topps. All the packs were opened, but there were some pretty cool cards inside…
But the best card in the box, hands-down, was a 1971 Fergie Jenkins. Not. A. Reprint.
If it weren’t for a small pinhole just below his left sleeve, this would be a very good condition 1971 card. The corners are nice, no creases, just a small pinhole.
In any case, this was a pretty good box…especially for free!