In this chapter of the “Top 7″ series, we now venture into a topic that probably has many, many opinions….Who are the 7 greatest Colorado Rockies of all time? Trust me, I am aware this is not as hard as dissecting a teams history like the Cubs or Red Sox, who have been playin this game for a hundred years. But it should be noted that this is the Rockies 20th year of existence, and 18th at beautiful Coors Field. I remember when Major League Baseball officials were so hesitant to consider putting a team in Denver, questioning the climate and wondering if the team would have enough fan support to warrant having a professional team here. Wow, hindsight is remarkably clear on those issues, wouldn’t ya say? The weather is typically gorgeous in Denver during the baseball months, and the fan support has been beyond tremendous. Players have come and gone, and left Rockies fans with memories that will last forever. So who are the “Magnificent 7″? Here is the list, in order, counting down from 7 to 1…..
7 – Matt Holliday - In his 5 years in Denver, Holliday established himself as one of the best young outfielders in the game. 3 All Star game appearances, 128 HR’s, 483 RBI, and a .319 batting average during his time here. He finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 2007, and was the ’07 NLCS MVP. His slide into home, slamming his face into the dirt, is a moment all Rockies fans have etched into their memories forever.
6 – Troy Tulowitzki - If this guy doesn’t end up being #2 or #1 when his career is over, something went terribly wrong. In his 5 full seasons in Denver, he has established himself as one of the great, young stars in all of baseball. A career .293 batting average, 122 HR, and 443 RBI have made him one of the best all time Rockies already. Defensively, he is a highlight reel with a cannon arm. The sky is the limit for Troy going forward, and he is only getting better.
5 – Andres Galarraga - The “Big Cat”, what a great nickname. He was the anchor of the Blake Street Bombers of the mid 90′s, and had an impressive 5 years in Colorado. 2 time All Star, 172 HR, 579 RBI, and a .316 batting average. Amazing power at the plate….He hit one of the most astounding home runs I have ever seen….On the road in Miami against the Marlins, he destroyed a Kevin Brown fastball that landed on the tarp in the upper deck. Honestly, the ball may have still been ascending when the stadium got in its way.
4 – Dante Bichette - Part of the inaugural ’93 team, Dante was just downright fun to watch. One of the best mullets of all time, and the guy was not truly suited to play left field, or anywhere in the field for that matter. He looked like a beer drinkin softball player, but Dante could definitely hit. Bichette hit .340 in 1995, was a 4-time All Star, and had 1278 hits in his 7 seasons here. He was, and still is, one of the all time fan favorites.
3 – Vinny Castilla - Vinny spent 8 years at 3rd base for the Rockies, and was outstanding defensively. His bat wasn’t too shabby either, as he smacked 239 HR’s and had 1206 Runs Batted In. He was a 2-time All Star, and had a career .297 batting average in Colorado. One of the classiest Rockies ever, and is still loved by fans to this day.
2 – Larry Walker - When people talk about some of the greatest players in MLB over the last 20 years, often times Walker is forgotten. He shouldn’t be. This guy was damn good. He spent his career with Montreal, Colorado, and St. Louis, and he could do it all…hit, hit for power, run, and had one of best outfield arms in the history of the game. Base runners feared that rifle in right field. While in Denver, Walker was the 1997 NL MVP, earned 6 Gold Gloves, was a 4-time All Star, and had a career .334 batting average. Sick stats for a very underrated player.
1 – Todd Helton - The QB alongside Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee turned out to be a decent ball player. Baseball player, that is. Todd has now been a Colorado Rockie for 15 years, and his numbers are eyebrow raising….347 HR’s, .323 career batting average, 1308 RBI, 554 doubles, 2,363 career base hits, the 2000 batting champ, and a 3-time Gold Glove winner. Helton is the ONLY player in baseball history with at least 35 doubles in 10 straight seasons (’98-’07). Is he Hall of Fame bound? That’s a tough one. Hitting in altitude rich Denver will hurt his chances, but he will have a legitimate shot when his career is over. He wears #17 to honor former first baseman Mark Grace, who was a great left handed hitter as well.
So there ya have it, the 7 greatest Colorado Rockies of all time. I tried really hard to include a pitcher, but guys like Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, and Ubaldo Jimenez just didn’t make the cut. Other players under consideration included Eric Young, Walt Weiss, Ellis Burks, and even Carlos Gonzalez. Almost 20 years of Colorado Rockies baseball so far, and it has been a great ride….only one thing remains….a World Series title sounds just about perfect, don’t ya think?