The Phillies Nation Top 100 continues today with #32. Our mission is to assess the Top 100 Phillies players of all time using impact to the Phillies, individual achievement, team achievement, traditional stats, and analytics as our criteria. The list was compiled by Ian Riccaboni and Pat Gallen with input from the rest of the Phillies Nation staff.
From this point forward, each weekday, we will reveal two Phillies from the PN Top 100 in separate posts. To view the 2008 iteration of the list of Greatest Phillies of All Time as compiled by Tim Malcolm, please click here.
Please check back this afternoon for #31.
#32 – Scott Rolen
.282/.373/.504, 150 HR, 71 SB in 3643 PA
Previous Rank: 28 (-4)
fWAR Phillies Rank: 16th among position players, 24th among Phillies
1997 NL Rookie of the Year, 2002 NL All-Star, Three Gold Gloves (1998, 2000-2001)
Is there a player that is met with more of a collective groan in Phillies history than Scott Rolen? A second round draft pick out of Jasper, IN in 1993, Rolen was a three-time Baseball America Top 100 prospect from 1995 through 1997, topping out at #13 prior to his official rookie year. Rolen would burst on to the scene as a 21-year old Phillie in 1996, hitting .300/.363/.444 through his first 26 games. Rolen would cool off through the end of 1996, getting a break for much of September but made the team out of camp in 1997, winning the NL Rookie of the Year, hitting 21 HR, stealing 16 bags and hitting .283/.377/.469.
Rolen would be among the best third baseman in baseball for the parts of seven seasons he spent in Philadelphia. From 1997 through 2002, Rolen ranked second in baseball in fWAR among third baseman behind only Chipper Jones, ranking third in homers, second in runs, second in RBIs, second in steals, ninth in OBP, third in slugging, and third in OPS. Despite his production, Rolen was frequently the subject of boos and cheers after he rejected a Phillies offer of 10 years, $140 million prior to the 2002 season, including a shower of boos when Rolen refused a curtain call after hitting two homers against the Montreal Expos in a June 1, 2002 win against the Expos. Rolen’s introverted personality clashed with manager Larry Bowa‘s extremely extroverted personality and Rolen’s demand for a trade to a contender was executed on July 29, 2002. Rolen and reliever Doug Nickle were traded to St. Louis for the countdown’s #60 Placido Polanco, starter Bud Smith, and reliever Mike Timlin.
Had Rolen stuck with the Phillies, he may have been a top fifteen or perhaps even a top ten player in club history. Rolen would win a World Series ring in 2006 with St. Louis, making seven All-Star teams, winning eight Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and ranks ninth in fWAR in baseball history among third basemen. It can be fun to think of what might have been for the teams that were so close to making the playoffs in 2003, 2005, and 2006 had Rolen at the hot corner but knowing Rolen didn’t want to be in Philadelphia, it makes it a lot easier to digest. And admittedly, it was fun watching Rolen go 1 for 11 in the 2010 NLDS against the Phillies.
In the annals of Phillies history, Rolen was one of the best, one of the Holy Trinity at the hot corner. Yet, his ugly exit taints his position in Phillies history among fans. Rolen would wrap up his career after the 2012 season, finishing his career with 316 HR and 118 SB.