Scott Rolen

Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

Bobby Abreu, Cliff Lee, Scott Rolen headline polarizing list of ex-Phillies on Hall of Fame ballot

MLB's 2020 Hall of Fame ballot was released Monday and it included six former Phillies of varying degrees of popularity. In fact, it's hard to even say which of the six is the most beloved in Philly. 

Bobby Abreu
Raul Ibanez
Cliff Lee
Scott Rolen
Curt Schilling
Billy Wagner

• At first glance, you might say Lee. He had great moments with the Phillies, memorable playoff games, and that low-key swag that drew fans to him. But things ended in a clunky way when he came back the second time. An elbow injury caused Lee to miss the final 1½ years of his contract and he was pretty much invisible during that time. He was also noticeably absent when the 2009 NL Championship team got together at Citizens Bank Park this past summer. The answer is still probably Lee, but it was a sour end for plenty of folks.

• Abreu is very well-respected around the game for being an ahead-of-his-time player with gaudy, well-rounded stats, but he was and still is polarizing around here. A portion of the fan base will always look at Abreu as an overrated compiler who was scared of walls. The other portion — it may be an even 50-50 split these days — appreciates the player Abreu was and realizes he'd be worth $200 million today.

• Phillies fans haven't forgotten Rolen's elite defense. Rolen was truly one of the best defensive third basemen of all time. But he orchestrated his way out of here and that is remembered equally, if not more so. 

• Schilling ... not delving into that one beyond an acknowledgment that his playoff performances were legendary, he had four excellent seasons and his post-playing career has been very strange.

• Ibañez was well-liked here and everywhere else he played. He may manage in the majors some day soon. He had an incredible first half in 2009, his first year with the Phillies, then was just slightly above average the rest of his three-year career with them.

• Phillies fans don't feel especially attached to Wagner, who was great here but lasted only two seasons. Unlike the other five on the list, Wagner should be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion. Wagner was a more dominant reliever than Trevor Hoffman or Lee Smith. He had six seasons with an ERA under 2.00. He saved 422 games. He could have hung around for three more seasons to hit the arbitrary number of 500, which would have made him a Hall of Famer. Instead, Wagner retired on his terms after posting a 1.43 ERA for the Braves in 2010.

It will be interesting to see whether Abreu, a first-time candidate, gets the groundswell of support we've seen in recent years with players like Tim Raines.

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Analyzing this year's Phillies Wall of Fame ballot

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Analyzing this year's Phillies Wall of Fame ballot

The Phillies Wall of Fame ballot is out and you can cast your votes through Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.

Fans can select their top three choices among the 10 men on the ballot. Votes are weighted differently for first, second and third place. The five players/managers/coaches with the most voting points then make up the five-man ballot voted upon by a special Wall of Fame Selection committee. 

This year's inductee will be honored prior to the Phillies' game against the White Sox on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 7:05 p.m.

Here are the candidates:

 •OF Bobby Abreu (1998-06)

• RHP Steve Bedrosian (1986-89)

• Pitching coach Rich Dubee (2005-13)

• Manager Jim Fregosi (1991-96)

• RHP Gene Garber (1974-78)

• OF Doug Glanville (1998-02, 2004)

• OF Bake McBride (1977-81)

• INF Placido Polanco (2002-05, 2010-12)

• 3B Scott Rolen (1996-02)

• 2B Manny Trillo (1979-82)

As always, the Wall of Fame ballot creates some tough choices. Do you go with the player or coach who made the biggest overall impact as a Phillie? Do you go with the best all-around player? The player with the best stats? The guy you deemed as most instrumental to team success? The biggest fan favorite?

Best overall player

If you're going best overall player, it's Rolen, who was 1997 Rookie of the Year, won four Gold Gloves with the Phillies and will go down as one of the best defensive third basemen of all-time.

Rolen did reject a 10-year extension from the Phillies in the winter of 2001, necessitating a trade to the Cardinals by the next season's deadline. His final 10 MLB seasons came away from Philadelphia.

Best stats

The best stats belong to Bobby Abreu, an under-appreciated player here who most of the baseball world would swoon over if he played today.

Abreu hit .303/.416/.513 in his nine seasons as a Phillie, averaging just under 25 HR and 100 RBI per season. This is about 95 percent of the production that Joey Votto has provided for the Reds all these years, yet think about how differently those two players have been perceived during their playing days.

Abreu is eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020 but that does seem a bit much. It's a difficult game when you start retrospectively considering players Hall of Famers when they weren't among the best of their era and didn't really make a profound impact in their home city. Baseball was viewed through a different lens in the early-2000s than it is now, but it's also obvious that offense was more prevalent in that era.

Take 2000 as an example. Abreu had a .970 OPS and ranked 21st in baseball. A .970 OPS in 2018 would have ranked fifth.

Fan favorites

Trillo and McBride were fan favorites and champions with the 1980 Phillies. Both had unique styles. Trillo was a tremendous defensive second baseman, winning three Gold Gloves and making four All-Star teams. He'd sometimes toy with the baserunner running up the line, holding the ball a few seconds longer before firing a rocket to first base.

McBride, in appearance and skill set, stood out. He was excellent with the Phils in 1977 after the midseason trade from the Cardinals, and in the 1980 championship season, he hit .309 and finished 10th in MVP voting.

Dubee's impact

Dubee was one of the underrated key figures of the best era in Phillies history. He was instrumental in the success of pitchers like Ryan Madson, Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ and Vance Worley, and he helped take Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay to even higher levels.

It's hard to imagine those Phillies teams having the same success with another pitching coach.

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