Monday, June 22, 2009

My Mind Remains Blown

Pretty much every day, Scott Rolen has done something awesome. If it isn't a funky, clever slide around a tag (don't sleep on his deft one-handed plate tag seen above. Its slickness belied its degree of difficulty) to a charge-and-throw off balance, Scott Rolen's been everything I ever wanted. And more. It was nice to see him pick up a home run in Philadelphia but, let's be honest, that's not his game anymore. And that's okay.

The GBOAT cries are good fun and all, but let's seriously think for a second: is Scott Rolen the greatest Blue Jay of all time? In terms of his body of work, he's right up there in the conversation.

In terms of position players, he has to be close. Roger Clemens has the best numbers of anyone to don Blue Jays colours. That much is hard to dispute. Roy Halladay could well be the greatest Blue Jay of all time, being a home-grown product and all. Carlos Delgado is a class-act and slugger of some regard, but the only player that competes with Scott Rolen's career is Roberto Alomar.

In many ways, Alomar and Rolen's career's are quite similar. At their peaks they were very different players, though they followed equivalent arcs. Alomar had two more huge years than Rolen, though Scott's 2004 season was insane! 1.007 OPS, 31 home runs, and a whole lot of general awesomeness.

Nearly a 5 win offensive player coupled with his 2 win defense and his ability to play every day made him with 8.8 WAR in 2004!! Remember Albert Pujols was worth 8.9 last year. Rolen had 2 seasons worth more than 7 WAR with at least 2 more seasons with WAR of 5. So yeah, he's good. Just eyeballing and guessing, I'd say Roberto's best season was worth around 7 WAR. I'd say he had 5 or 6 seasons of 4.5-5.5 win ball. Certainly impressive.

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little liesWhen discussing two complete players - offensive numbers aren't enough. Thankfully Baseball Reference supplies advanced defense stats that, while not perfect, will at least fill in for now. Be forewarned: the results are mildly shocking.

It turns out, according to Baseball References Total Fielding Runs Above Average, that Roberto Alomar was Jeter before Jeter. For all the jumping, flipping, turning magic we remember, he wasn't that good. I'm floored. Alomar's best year with the glove was 1998 with the Orioles; worth 11.3 runs above average. For his career at second base, Alomar's value is -29.5 runs above(below?) average! These stats obviously aren't the be all or end all, and Robbie certainly had style. That's got to be worth something.

No matter the system, Scott Rolen's defense stands up. While UZR hasn't shown him the love this year, his past years have been off the charts. How does 130.3 career runs above average grab you? By the swollen balls, I can only assume. Rolen's 2004 season counted 26.5 runs above average, not to mention four other seasons in the teens and two more just under 12. Holy. Shit. The recent talk of best defensive third baseman ever is more than just talk (though Brooks Robinson benefits from playing forever, he had two seasons with more than 30 runs saved above average, though the were during the offensively depressed late sixties. Still, yikes.)

I don't think any of us knew what we were getting when Scott Rolen came to town. What we've got isn't even half of what he was, which really says a lot. What we do have is the consummate professional who altered his game as his body changed, allowing him to make positive contributions to wins and my style-inclined heart. Scott Rolen may have lost too many years to injury to classify as a sure-thing Hall of Famer, he's still a pleasure to watch. We're all very, very lucky. GBOAT!


  1. Last night I treated myself and searched "Scott Rolen defense" on the Jays video hilities section. It's unreal.

    Everyday you have to remind yourself not to take him for granted.

    sidenote: the #1 reason I ignore all the numerical systems that judge defense is because of what they say about Robbie and how much it goes against my childhood.

  2. By the swollen balls, indeed.

    I think you hit the nail on the head in the last paragraph. I'm amazed at how Rolen has been able to adapt. Simply amazed. It's a testament to just how talented he is. He really is fucking incredible and you're right, we're lucky to have him.

    The pleasure is ours, and I'd like to thank Troy Glaus for asking out of town. Sure, he mashed; hit some long balls. But he's no Scott Rolen.

  3. You know who I hate, Bud Selig. He has the power to allow baseball videos on YT but he'd rather be a dick and confine it to and reap no benefit from it other than ad revenue. A smart commish would open it up to the world and attract all kinds of young and foreign fans, like what David Stern did by not taking NBA vids off YT.

    Can you just imagine all the Scott Rolen videos we could be watching on YT? I would just spend all of my free time looking up all kinds of things from my childhood. Fuck I hate Selig.

    I love that Rolen is a Blue Jay. Along with Doc, he helps keep me sane considering all the bullshiat we have to go through. I do think you're underselling Delgado a bit though. He's amongst the 20 best sluggers of his generation, and he's one of the few of them who is clean (for now).

  4. There is nothing I can add to this (big surprise, right?). Scott That slide against the Nats? Holy shit. Underappreciated. Like the GBOAT in general.

  5. I think you might be right SP, in this post anyway. My love for Carlos is well-established and pure. You don't need to be a slick gloveman to have style.

  6. Quietly - in a foundry deep beneath the bowels of the Rogers Centre - using steel honed to perfection by Elves and Hobbits - using fire stolen from the Orcs and Dragons in Middle Earth - Scott Rolen the long lost son of Gandalf the Grey rebuilt his broken body. For years he laboured in the underground of Hogtown - a village in the heart of Arda.

    Then on day in September of 2008 he rose from the tunnels and before the snows of winter fell he tried out his new arms, his new shoulders and he found they were good. Then he slept till spring. As the snow drops rose through the snow the Rolen was seen in the south - a place filled with Hobbits and Snowbirds and proved the worth of his new technology - his newly rebuilt body and swing.

    Then back in Hogtown a Group of Reds from Melkor came to do battle - and they rested poorly as all through the night from the underground all around them they heard the Roars of the Rolen. My will be done the Rolen bellowed from the Pub at the Renaissance and the Reds laid in their beds in fear - their sleep disturbed by their awareness of doom engulfing them like a fog from Mador.

  7. You give anonymous a good name sir. That is some fine, fine work.

  8. I am a B Robinson fan, I still think he is the best ever...I missed out on the his game last sunday, but I hope to see him at the legends sports challenge. Anyway, that picture of his slide looks unreal!!


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