Originally Posted by RedEye
You don't need to convince me that Rolen was one factor in the Reds' emergence in 2010.
It seems a pretty unsustainable argument, though, to argue that he was the single stimulus when there were so many other parts of the equation that played an important role, including the maturation of the pitching, the cultivation of a more dependable farm system, etc. History just doesn't work that way. It's more complicated than that, and I don't think the testimony of Votto changes the account we need to tell. "Great Man" theories of events are always tempting, but they are usually wrong -- or at least strikingly incomplete.
Agreed. Attributing the success of the Reds to the acquisition of Scott Rolen is pure fantasy in my opinion. Rolen happened to come to the right place at the right time, when the young, talented Reds were primed for success.
I really like Scott Rolen and I place high value on his leadership. I just disagree with those who think acquiring him was a key moment in the Reds' resurgence. I don't buy it.
Forget about the players the Reds traded to get Rolen (whether or not you think letting go of Encarnacion was a big mistake). Let's just evaluate his stay here in Cincinnati. As a Red he has been a league-average player during his tenure. He had a .263/.332/.438 slash line for a .771 OPS and 104 OPS+ with 6.9 brWAR in 330 games over 3.25 seasons. That is an average big-leaguer in every respect. The Reds paid him $23-28* million over that period -- pretty steep for an average player who missed almost half the team's games. His play on the field was certainly not good enough to call him the catalyst that put the Reds over the top, especially when you consider the resources spent on him that might have been better spent elsewhere. He brought a lot of leadership and intangibles, but it is a huge stretch to say that he single-handedly turned the team around.
If Scott Rolen was such a force that inevitably propelled the Reds to the top by sheer force of will, then why did the Reds suffer such a let down in 2011 and end up with another losing record?
Votto has said nice things about Scott Rolen, but do we really
think Rolen is the reason why Votto is such a great hitter? Votto was already a young stud with a 156 OPS+ the year that Rolen arrived in August. Votto learned a lot from Rolen, but Rolen didn't teach Votto how to hit.
Scott Rolen arrived in Cincy when the Reds were on the verge of breaking through as a real contender -- with Rolen or without him. The Reds have gone through good times and bad times during Rolen's tenure. I don't see much logic in crediting Rolen with turning around the Reds. It was just good timing on his part. He happened to arrive at the time when everything was coming together for the Reds.
The reasons the Reds became a contender are named Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall, Zack Cozart, Homer Bailey and Todd Frazier. Scott Rolen? Not so much.
* $23 million in straight salary plus $5 million deferred without interest. Comes out to less than $28 million if the Reds put down a nugget in an interest-bearing account until the payment is due.