Rolen is one of those guys I mentioned in the intro with a sneaky-good case. He only received MVP votes in four years (he finished 20th, 24th, 14th and fourth) and he only hit .220 in his postseason career (though he did hit .421 in the 2006 World Series, helping the Cardinals to a stunning upset of the Tigers). His career .855 OPS ranks 153rd all time, his 316 homers rank 120th and his 1,287 RBIs rank 120th. But … his career WAR (70.0) and JAWS (56.8) are both above the average numbers for third basemen already in the Hall of Fame (67.5 and 55.1). That’s eye-catching. Defensively, Rolen was maybe the best of his generation (he won eight Gold Gloves) at third base. I’m genuinely curious to see how voters approach Rolen next year.
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Bartolo Colon will continue to mesmerize America. While continuing to defy age and traditional athlete stereotypes, Mr. Colon will again produce a surprisingly good season in 2017 (think a 14-11 kind of good). Now with the Braves and ready to give a new fanbase reason to swoon, Colon will keep on keepin’ on and serve as an inspiration to non-athletic-looking people everywhere. If you missed it, check out MLB’s Colon-themed hype trailer.
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Man, there seem to be a lot of Braves references in this list. Well, that’s because …
Jason Heyward will settle the debate on what type hitter he is. Lots of people would argue that we already know, and perhaps we do. But a lot of other people still hold out hope that Heyward’s mythical breakout offensive season is still this close. Either way, 2017 could be the key season.