It might be a couple of seasons before St. Louis Cardinals fans get to see one of their own inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In his 15th and final chance on the Writer’s ballot, Lee Smith garnered only 34.2% of the vote. Larry Walker was in his 7th season of consideration and earned 21.9%.
Among those expected to join Walker on the ballot next season will be Chris Carpenter, Jason Isringhausen, Scott Rolen, and Jeff Suppan.
Without question, all of those players have earned a special place in franchise history and will likely one day join Carpenter in wearing a red jacket for the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
When healthy, Carpenter was dominant. But injuries resulted in the compilation of a 144-94 career record. Most of those victories came while he pitched in St. Louis (95-44) to go along with his Cy Young award (’05) and two World Series championships.
Three hundred saves is still an impressive milestone, but as the game and closer role as changed it doesn’t carry the same weight for Hall of Fame voting as it did a couple of decades ago. With the likes of Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner having a tough go ahead of him, makes for an uphill battle for Isringhausen.
Like Carpenter, Jeff Suppan enjoyed his most success while pitching for the Cardinals (47-32) but he finished with an overall record of 140-146.
Which leaves Scott Rolen, who after a strong showing on the ballot last year, figures to be a leading candidate for the team Hall of Fame in 2017. But the third baseman also deserves strong consideration for Cooperstown.
Rolen collected 2077 hits in his career with 316 home runs, 1287 runs batted in, and a .281 batting average. He was also awarded the Rawlings Gold Glove on eight different occasions.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that Scott Rolen and Mike Schmidt are the only two third baseman who have at least 2023 hits, an .855 OPS, and eight Gold Gloves. Not bad company.
Chipper Jones, who is largely considered to be a first-ballot selection next year, has superior offensive numbers with 468 home runs, 1623 RBIs, and a .303 batting average. However, averaged out over a 162-game season, the gap narrows a bit.
For a 162-game average, Jones hit .303 with 30 HRs and 105 RBIs. By the same average, Rolen hit .281 with 25 HRs and 102 RBIs.
But more notable, Jones never won a Gold Glove–in large part because Rolen played the same position and won the award.
This is not to takeaway from the candidacy for Jones. Even for those who believe or rank him higher defensively, such as in the JAWS rankings, both he and Rolen still rate above the average Hall of Famer at third base.
Still there are some that believe it is a longshot for Rolen to make it to Cooperstown. Injuries kept rolling from piling up as many games and innings played as some would prefer. And his low-key approach will also work against him.
But until Albert Pujols retires–unless Yadier Molina beats him– and waits his five years, Scott Rolen is the most likely Hall of Fame candidate to have played for St. Louis.