In its relatively short 25 year life, Coors Field has already produced some of the greatest offensive seasons of all time, including 11 of the last 26 batting champions in the National League. As such, when you think of the Rockies, you think of hitting, and the Rockies have had plenty of that in their history. Here I’ll go over the four greatest names in Rockies history. Three of them are easy choices, but the fourth choice is a little more muddled, so I’ll be making a stronger case for my fourth than I will for the others. Without further ado, I give you the greatest Coors Field products in history.
Career Stats: .316/.414/.539, 369 HR, 1406 RBI, 2519 H, 592 2B, 133 OPS+ 61.2 bWAR
This one is the most obvious choice of all. The man who spent 17 years manning first base for the Rockies, as well as the only Rockies player with his number retired, is at or near the top of practically every Rockies offensive leaderboard. While Helton certainly performed far better at Coors than away from it, he also had a very impressive .855 OPS on the road, which shouldn’t be forgotten when remembering his career. The one known as “The Toddfather” was also one of the most beloved players to ever don the purple pinstripes. Depending how the voters see it, he could very well be the first Rockies player ever enshrined in Cooperstown.
Rockies Stats: .334/.426/.618, 258 HR, 848 RBI, 1361 H, 126 SB, 147 OPS+, 48.3 bWAR
The poster child of the “Coors” argument, Larry Walker would have taken the top spot on this list had he spent his whole career with the Rockies like Helton did. While he only played more than 140 games 3 times in his 8 years in Colorado, Walker hit more than 35 HRs 4 times (including 49 in 1997), hit over .350 4 times (with his lowest Colorado batting average being .276), and drove in more than 100 runs 5 times. Coors or not, Walker had some of the best offensive seasons of his era. Like Helton, the voting will determine how the voters feel about Coors, but previous history suggests that Walker will continue to find problems finding enshrinement in Cooperstown. He can still take solace knowing that he had the high honor of being inducted into my list of all-time Rockies.
Career Stats: .291/.346/.561, 186 HR, 616 RBI, 975 H, 121 OPS+, 109 DRS, 33.1 bWAR
Keep in mind that Arenado has compiled these stats over only 6 years. Also keep in mind that over the past 4 years, he has averaged 39.5 HR and 125.75 RBI per year. For reference, he has led the league in homers in all but one of those years (2017 when Stanton hit 59) and RBIs in two out of four (Stanton with 132 in ’17, Baez with 111 in ’18). In those two seasons, Arenado had 130 and 110 RBI, respectively. With more time, Arenado would certainly dethrone Helton as the greatest Rockie of all time. However, even with impending free agency looming, he has still cemented his spot in the top 4.
Before I get into my choice for the fourth spot, it would only be fair to highlight two other Denver greats, who just missed getting in.
Career Stats: .287/.345/.506, 231 HR, 775 RBI, 122 SB, 1403 H, 114 OPS+, 24.7 bWAR
The key piece that came back in the trade that sent my other honorable mention away, Gonzalez as been a consistent, yet oft injured, part of the Rockies lineup since his breakout season in 2010. Gonzalez is in or near the top 5 in nearly every major offensive category, including having the second most games played in franchise history behind only Todd Helton.
Rockies Stats: .319/.387/.550, 130 HR, 486 RBI, 863 H, 131 OPS+, 1 Times Touching Home Plate, 18.6 bWAR
Ultimately, this just comes down to Holliday not spending enough time in a Rockies uniform for me to dethrone any of my top 4 picks. The owner of the best game 163 slide in history certainly left his mark in his brief time before being traded to Oakland, still ranking in the top 10 of nearly every offensive category despite playing only 5 seasons. His return to the team in 2018 was brief, as he primarily acted as a pinch hitter, but successful nonetheless. To end my portion on Holliday, he touched home plate.
After running through my two honorable mentions, without further ado, my pick to complete the Rockies Rushmore.
Rockies Stats: .299/.371/.513, 188 HR, 657 RBI, 1165 H, 123 OPS+, 85 DRS, 39.4 bWAR
Admittedly, I let my bias take over for this one. Tulo was the reason I started following the Rockies in the first place. Even so, the best shortstop in the game from 2007-2013 still shouldn’t be shorted. He ranks 3rd in total bWAR among all Rockies position players, as well as being in the top 10 in every single significant offensive category in Rockies history, and often in the top 5. His run of dominance, or potential run, was halted by the injury bug that Rockies fans seemed to watch plague him year in and year out. Tulo only played more than 140 games 3 times in his 10 year stint in Colorado, yet did more with his brief time than most players do in a full season. Most fans will fondly remember is adeptness at making the Jeter-esque jump throw from short, or his 15 homer September in 2010. Sadly, his Rockies career came to a rather abrupt end following a mid-season trade to the Blue Jays in 2015, but #2 will always be remembered as one of the best to ever don the purple and black.