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MLB Hall of Fame: Rolen gets the call; SF Giants’ Kent, Cain fall off ballot

NEW YORK — Slick-fielding third baseman Scott Rolen was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday with five votes to spare above the 75% needed, while former Giants second baseman Jeff Kent received fewer than 47 percent of the vote in his 10th and final season on the BBWAA ballot.

Former Giants ace Matt Cain, who won 104 games in 13 seasons with the team and pitched the first perfect game in San Franciso franchise history, also fell off the ballot after failing to receive a vote from the 389 members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Rolen, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner, appeared on 297 of 389 ballots cast for 76.3%. A player needed 292 votes for election.

Rolen, who spent most of his career with the Phillies and the Cardinals before ending his career with the Blue Jays and the Reds is the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall, the fewest of any position. Rolen, 47, will be formally inducted July 23 in Cooperstown, New York, along with slugger Fred McGriff, who was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee last month.

“You don’t think about this. You think about doing the best you can,” Rolen said. “I never thought the Hall of Fame was going to be the answer.”

Rolen had a .281 batting average with 316 homers and 1,287 RBIs for Philadelphia (1996-2002), St. Louis (2002-07), Toronto (2008-09) and Cincinnati (2009-12). He was a unanimous pick as the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with the Phillies and hit .421 as the Cardinals beat the Tigers in the 2006 World Series.

Rolen was in his sixth year on the BBWAA ballot. Candidates can remain on the ballot for up to 10 years if they are listed on at least 5 percent of ballots. After that, their candidacy reverts to the Hall’s committee system.

Rolen’s five-vote margin tied for the 12th-smallest among players elected by the writers and his 76.3% of the vote was the 10th lowest. Rolen increased from 63.2% last year and 10.2% in his first ballot appearance in 2018.

That became the lowest first-ballot percentage of a player later elected. The previous mark had been Duke Snider’s 17% in 1970. Snider was voted in with 86.5% in 1980.

First baseman Todd Helton was second with 281 votes (72.2%) and reliever Billy Wagner third with 265 (68.1%). Helton moved up from 52% and can have five more appearances on the ballot, while Wagner rose from 51% and has two additional chances.

Several others also saw large increases: Andruw Jones moved from 41.1% to 58.1%, Gary Sheffield from 40.6% to 55% and Kent from 32.7% to 46.5%. Unlike Kent, Sheffield gets one more attempt. Kent’s case will revert to the Historical Overview Committee in December 2025 for consideration on the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee for the Class of 2026.

Players tainted by drug suspensions again lagged. Alex Rodriguez was at 35.7%, up from 34.3%, and Manny Ramirez at 33.2%, up from 28.9%.

Eight blank ballots were submitted by writers, who are eligible to vote after 10 consecutive years of membership in the BBWAA.