The results are in, and the writers have decided to elect former Phillie Scott Rolen to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2023. Rolen will join Fred McGriff, who was elected through a contemporary baseball committee.
Rolen began his career in Philadelphia, where he was the unanimous Jackie Robinson National League Rookie of the Year in 1997. In his time in Philadelphia, he won four Gold Gloves. He was a ferocious player and a tremendous athlete. His great two-way ability is what made him one of the best at his position.
After being on one of the worst teams in baseball his entire career, Rolen and the Phillies were unable to agree to a contract extension. To get some return for their great young player, in the summer of 2002, Rolen was shipped to St. Louis for a lackluster package. Rolen would continue to thrive in St Louis, winning a World Series in 2006.
Rolen finished his career with the Cincinnati Reds.
He received just 10.2% of votes in his first year on the ballot. Every year he steadily improved his vote total. In 2023, his sixth year on the ballot, he was finally able to pass the 75% threshold and finished with 76.2% of votes.
The jump from 10.2% to 76.2% was the largest boost in Hall of Fame voting history.
The reaction among Phillies fans was mixed when they saw that Rolen was elected to the Hall. While many do not think of Rolen as a Phillie because of his departure early in his career, others believe the organization should claim him since he played the most games in his career as a Phillie. He started his career and learned how to be a Major Leaguer in Philly, and the fans should acknowledge him as one of their own.
The organization will recognize him as a Phillie. In a statement released by the Phillies, principal owner John Middleton says “The Phillies look forward to honoring Scott for his momentous achievement at Citizens Bank Park this season at a date to be determined”.
As a Phillies player who made the Hall of Fame, Rolen could be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame eventually as well.
Rolen has not decided on which hat his plaque will wear in Cooperstown. It will likely be the Cardinals because of his world championship in 2006, however, the Phillies are still in play.
Other Phillies legends also made some progress on the ballot this year.
Bobby Abreu played for the Phillies from 1998-2005. In 2022 he gained just 8.6% of Hall of Fame Votes. However, in 2023, Abreu totaled 15.9% of the vote. It was his fourth year on the ballot, and although it seems unlikely, Abreu still has a chance at the Hall.
Billy Wagner also saw a spike in his vote totals and now sits on the brink of making the Hall. Philadelphia was just a stop in the road for Wagner as he only played there in two out of 17 years, but he did make an All-Star team with them in 2005. In 2022, Wagner received just 51% of the vote, but in 2023 he received 68.1%. He now sits just 6.9% away from the Hall. Next year will be his ninth year on the ballot, but it seems likely he will sneak in within the next 2 years.
Jimmy Rollins was on the ballot for the second year, and he continued to struggle. Despite being a top Phillie of all time and the all-time leader in hits for the franchise, he only received 12.9% of votes in 2022. This is a 3.2% increase from last year when he had just 9.7% of votes. Rolen’s jump from his 1st year to the Hall of Fame is an encouraging development for Rollins, but it will be an uphill battle. If Rollins were to make the Hall eventually, he would have the largest jump from first-year voting to the Hall of Fame ever.
Jayson Werth was on the ballot for the first time in 2023. The World Champion outfielder did not gain any votes and fell off the ballot. While it wasn’t expected he would make the Hall, it is still an honor to be on the ballot.
In 2024, Chase Utley will join the ballot. Regarded as one of the best offensive 2nd basemen ever and the best of his generation, Utley has a great chance to eventually make the Hall. It’s unlikely he will make it on the first ballot but could see better numbers than Rollins has seen so far. The argument for Utley is that his peak years were some of the best the game has ever seen for his position. The argument against Utley is that he did not have the longevity other Hall of Famers had. He totaled under 2000 hits in his carer but is still in the top 15 for 2nd all-time in WAR according to baseball reference.
Only time will tell if the Hall of Fame welcomes more former Phillie, but the induction of Scott Rolen in 2023 is a great start.