New York (AP) — Scott Rolen could become the third baseman to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the fewest of any position.
“It stems from an original bias that third base is not important defensively,” John Thorne, the official historian of Major League Baseball, said Monday. “I think Brooks Robinson changed that perception. So, just as relief pitchers have for the longest time been seen as bum starters rather than a game-changing new position, so the third baseman has been seen as a bum.”
Rollin, a seven-time All-Star who retired after the 2012 season, is among the top contenders in the 28-player ballot considered by the Baseball Writers Association of America in a vote announced Tuesday night. He received just 10.2% on his first appearance on the ballot in 2018 and rose to 52.9% in 2021 and 63.2% last year, when he lost 47 votes out of the required 75%.
Notable vote-getters are first baseman Todd Hilton at 79.8%, Rollin at 79.2% and reliever Billy Wagner at 73.2%, according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame Ballot Tracker, which included 183 public ballots plus unknowns as of Monday afternoon among what is estimated. A total of 396.
When David Ortiz was elected last year, his final number fell to 79.8% from 83.1% of the public vote before the announcement. Barry Bonds has fallen from 76.8% of the public vote before the announcement to 66% and Roger Clemens from 75.4% to 65.2%, so it’s possible that no one will be elected by the BBWAA for the second time in three years. This could become the first three-year period in which only one player has been voted on by the writers since annual voting began in 1966.
Anyone who votes will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23 along with Fred McGriff, who was elected last month by the Contemporary Era of Baseball committee.
There are 84 pitchers in Hall (including nine who were primarily relievers), 27 right fielders, 26 players at both first and shortstop, 24 center fielders, 23 left fielders, and 20 second basemen. on base, 19 grounders, and 17 third basemen. There are also three players who are designated primarily as hitters, a position that did not exist until 1973.
Of the players since the expansion era began in 1961, the only third basemen elected by the BBWAA have been Robinson (1983), Mike Schmidt (1995), George Brett (1999), Paul Molitor (2004), Wade Boggs (2005) and Chipper. Jones (2018). Ron Santo was inducted in 2012 after a Veterans Committee vote.
“It’s a very difficult situation to play because you need to be very fast and a great third player has to be able to hit,” said former commissioner Faye Vincent. “And when you think about it, after Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt, the number goes down pretty quickly.”
281 batting average with 316 homers and 1,287 RBI for Philadelphia (1996-2002), St. Louis (2002-2007), Toronto (2008-2009) and Cincinnati (2009-12). He was a unanimous selection as the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, and hit . 421 as the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series and won eight Gold Gloves.
A five-time All-Star, Helton hit . 316 with 369 homers and 1,406 RBI with Colorado from 1997-2013. He won the 2000 National League batting title and three Gold Gloves. Hilton’s vote share increased from 16.5% in 2019 to 52% last year.
Wagner made 422 saves, ranked sixth on the career list, and was a seven-time All-Star in a 16-year career with Houston (1995-2003), Philadelphia (2004-05), New York Mets (2006-09), Boston ( 2009) and Atlanta (2010). Wagner’s vote rose from 10.5% in 2016 to 51% last year.
Carlos Beltran, John Lucky and Jared Weaver are among the 14 newcomers, marking the first time writers have evaluated Beltran after his role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal en route to a 2017 World Series title.
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