Cards All-Time Top 40 – Scott Rolen #31

Our Top 40 countdown of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals of all time continues with their Gold Glove Award-winning third baseman, Scott Rolen.

Scott Bruce Rolen

The Basics




Total Yrs

Yrs in StL





Third Base









The Awards

Hall of Fame

Retired #

World Champ



Cy Young

Gold Glove








Note: All stats and awards listed are for years as a Cardinal only.
Rolen's career stats available from

Voter Comments

Ray Mileur (31): I hope Cardinal fans are paying attention, because we are witnessing one of the greatest third basemen in the history of the game playing for us now.

The National League Rookie of the Year in 1997, Rolen has already won seven Gold Gloves, something that only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) have more. Schmidt himself has said that Rolen is a better gloveman than he was, and many analysts and baseball experts, including this one agrees.

A middle-of-the-order hitter throughout his career, Rolen has a career .285 batting average as well as a .376 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage. He has 1,349 hits, 253 home runs, and 954 RBIs, as well as having scored 834 runs.

The only thing that may keep Scott Rolen out of the Hall of Fame is his durability. He played hurt throughout most of the 2004 season and missed most of the 2005 campaign, but he came back and put up big numbers in 2006 to help the Cardinals to a World Championship.

If he can stay healthy and play another six or seven seasons, he may be well on his way to Cooperstown.

Rob Rains (NR): Rolen will no doubt move up in the all-time rankings the longer he continues to wear a Cardinal uniform, but in a few short years already ranks with the best defensive third basemen in franchise history.

Slowed by a shoulder injury for much of 2005 and 2006, Rolen played through the injury to help lead the Cardinals back to the World Series and to the victory over the Detroit Tigers. An intense, nothing-fancy kind of player, he quickly won the adoration of the Cardinals' fans with his style of play.

Jerry Modene (19): It's not often the Cardinals have traded for a player of historic proportions, but Rolen is one of them (Brock and McGwire come to mind as two others), having been stolen from the Phillies (where he wasn't getting along with manager Larry Bowa) in 2002 for Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin. (How many people remember that the Cards got another player in the deal? However, pitcher Doug Nickel was gone almost before he reported to Memphis.)

Rolen's numbers through his four-plus years in St. Louis compare favorably to Ken Boyer's – Rolen has a bit more power; Boyer a bit more speed. Both were solid defensive third basemen but Rolen is, at his best, the best in the game, maybe the best in the past 20-30 years, while Boyer was overshadowed not only by Brooks Robinson, but by his own brother Clete.

But even with his injury 2005 mixed in, Rolen's tenure in St. Louis has resulted in a line of .290/.377/.532 (that's a .909 OPS, folks), with 103 HR and 395 RBI in 1981 AB; these numbers mark a noticeable improvement over his numbers in Philadelphia. Now, pro-rate Boyer's Cardinal numbers to 1981 AB and you get 80 HR and 313 RBI to go along with a .293/.356/.475 line. Or, to look at the other way, pro-rate Rolen's Cardinal numbers to Boyer's 6334 AB and you get a man who would have 329 HR and 1263 RBI to Boyer's 255 HR and 1001 RBI in a Cardinal uniform.

Bottom line, Rolen doesn't rate higher because of the relative brevity of his Cardinal career, but he's a third baseman of historical magnitude who may well eclipse Boyer as the greatest third baseman in Cardinal history before he's done. If they don't trade him first.

Brian Walton (37): Hard-nosed, workman-like, quiet, humble, gets the job done with the glove, arm, bat and even on the bases. If healthy, Scott Rolen still has plenty of time to become one of the very greatest Cardinals ever.

At this point, however, Rolen just slipped onto the end of my list, doing so at the expense of Whitey Kurowski. This was one my toughest choices, but ultimately I went with the superior defender.

Of course, Rolen is pretty good with the bat, too. Already, he ranks in the top ten in the history of the franchise in career slugging (#10 @ .532), on-base plus slugging percentage (#10 @ .909) and at-bats per home run (#4 @ 19.2). He also ranks tenth in the Cardinals single-season bests in doubles (49 in 2003).

As a member of the Cardinals, Rolen has four straight Gold Glove Awards and All-Star Game selections to his credit. He is under contract for four more seasons and enjoys a full no-trade clause, so should be around long enough to realize that potential.

Voter Comments Key: Voter (Individual Ranking); NR = Not Rated

Master List: To see our entire list of the greatest 40 Cardinals players of all-time as they are unveiled daily, click here.

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