You’re going to win a bet with this. A lot of bets, actually.

When reflecting on the greatest players to ever suit up for the Colorado Rockies, your list may reach the 20s before you even think of a pitcher.

The Blake Street Bombers are an easy five. Todd Helton makes six. There may be the entire lineup from 2007, plus a few of the supporting cast. An entire crew of Gold Glovers from the 2010s – Carlos González, Troy Tulowtizki, Nolan Arenado, DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story – takes the count even higher.

Yet, when using the Baseball Hall of Fame voting as a marker of career success, no position group has received more support than Rockies’ pitchers. That’s right. Colorado’s curve ballers can match infielders, best the outfielders and dominate the catching corps. 

Seven pitchers in purple have been selected on at least one ballot. There are seven infielders, too, but only four outfielders. (Just one catcher has ever garnered a vote and that man’s name could win you another bet.)

Darryl Kile is the lone starter to stick around for more than two seasons – none lasted more than one –  while the two relievers, LaTroy Hawkins and Huston Street, would probably be quick to make everyone’s all-time bullpen for the franchise.

Upcoming ballots don’t turn up any notable names other than closer Wade Davis. In time, we could see the likes of Jon Gray, Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland debated by BBWAA voters. Though that reality is at least a decade away. 

The following is a comprehensive list of every starting pitcher and relief pitcher from the Rockies organization who has been listed on a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. In order to appear on a ballot, players are required to have been active in MLB for at least 10 seasons. With a maximum 40 players on the ballot at one time, not all who have fulfilled the requirement even reach the ballot. To even do so is a great honor.

Starting Pitchers

Bruce Hurst: 2000 (1 vote, 0.2%)

Darryl Kile: 2003 (7 votes, 1.4%)

Bret Saberhagen: 2007 (7 votes, 1.3%)

Jamie Moyer: 2018 (10 votes, 2.4%)

Roy Oswalt: 2019 (4 votes, 0.9%)

Bruce Hurst started his career in 1980, before all other pitchers who ever appeared for the Rockies. He was worth 35.9 bWAR over his nine best seasons with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres. Colorado hoped the only All-Star produced by the state of Utah still had more in the tank when they traded for him in 1993, giving up two players in Brad Ausmus and Andy Ashby who would later rack up three All-Star selections combined. Hurst is best remembered for starting three games with Boston during the 1986 World Series, winning two and posting a 1.96 ERA across 23.0 innings. 

Darryl Kile was the second big name free agent starting pitcher signed after Bill Swift and before Mike Hampton in hopes of figuring out how to pitch at altitude. Kile, the only player to be an All-Star before his tenure with the Rockies as well as after, struggled at Coors Field, but returned to form upon his trade to the St. Louis Cardinals with a year remaining on his contract. At 33 years old, Kile passed away from a heart attack on June 22, 2002. His No. 57 jersey has not been worn by a Rockie since his death. 

During the lockout-shortened 1995 season, Colorado acquired Mets starter Bret Saberhagen to fortify a rotation that required twelve different starters and push for the NL West pennant. (One dubious distinction that season: Saberhagen is likely the first Rockie with more than a decade of experience to have worn two different uniform numbers in the same season during his two month stint with the club.)

Before his time in the Centennial State, Saberhagen won two American League Cy Young Awards with the Kansas City Royals and was selected to three All-Star Games. His 1985 season goes down as one of the most complete for a starting pitcher in baseball history, having earned the top prize in the regular season for a pitcher (AL Cy Young Award) and given the award for best performance in the Fall Classic (World Series MVP) as he led the Royals to the franchise’s first championship.

Jamie Moyer was born two years before Saberhagen, yet he’d pitched 17-years after Saberhagen. Though he’s more known for nearly pitching until the age of 49 with Colorado, a decent case could be made for his place in Cooperstown.

Moyer’s 269 wins is 35th-most all-time and more than Hall of Famers Jim Palmer, Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal, all of whom had lengthy careers of sixteen or more seasons. While it did take Moyer a quarter-century to rack up that total, only four players ever managed to string together more seasons: Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson, and Hall of Very-Good Deacon McGuire and Tommy John.

Moyer received Cy Young Award votes in three seasons, all after the age of 35, and earned his first All-Star selection at the age of 40. According to JAWS, his ranking as the 126th-best starter may make it improbable for Moyer to ever earn enshrinement, but the recent selection of Jim Kaat in 2022 (25 seasons, 287 wins and 109th JAWS ranking) could provide some hope.  

Like a few others on this list, Roy Oswalt came to Colorado with his best days in the rear view mirror. His career began with four top-five finishes in NL Cy Young Award voting. Between 2001 and 2011, he won 159 games, most in the NL and third-most in all of MLB. Oswalt was a three-time All-Star and won the 2005 NLCS MVP as he lifted the Houston Astros to their first World Series appearance. 

Other Notables: Mike Hampton, 2016; Liván Hernández, 2018; Kevin Millwood, 2018; Jon Garland, 2019

Future Consideration: None

Ubaldo Jiménez pitched for 12 seasons with Colorado, Cleveland and Baltimore. His 114 wins from 2007-2017 rank as the 20th-most by a pitcher during that time. He will forever be remembered by Rockies’ fans for that remarkable 2010 season in which he tossed the only no-hitter in team history, won 15 games in the first half, started the All-Star Game for the NL and finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting.

Unfortunately, Jiménez was left off the 2023 ballot despite having the second-most strikeouts (1720) of those pitchers who retired in 2017. When comparing the careers of those who were included – John Lackey, Jered Weaver, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey and Bronson Arroyo – the difference between Jiménez and them is somewhat negligible.

The inclusion of Jiménez would have made him the first Colorado product to make the Hall of Fame ballot. His absence further underlines the double-standard about playing in Denver: since Coors Field can help the hitters, that should be held against them; however, giving a break or providing additional credit to pitchers is hardly considered.

Relief Pitchers

LaTroy Hawkins: 2021 (2 votes, 0.5%)

Huston Street: 2023 (1 vote among public ballots through January 21)

LaTroy Hawkins spent 21 seasons in MLB for 11 different teams and pitched in 1,042 games, 10th-most all-time. He played for Colorado for three years over two stints. He was integral to in their run to the 2007 World Series and saved 23 games with the club in 2014 as the oldest player, 41, in the NL.

Huston Street notched 84 saves as the Rockies’ closer during the 2009-11 seasons after being acquired from Oakland with Carlos González in the Matt Holliday trade. Drafted in the first round by the A’s in 2014, Street quickly debuted and won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2015, made two All-Star squads, and received MVP votes in two seasons on his way to 324 career saves, 20th-most all-time.

While 31 relievers have accumulated 300 saves in a season, just eight of those firemen have been enshrined in Cooperstown. Considering a player like Fernando Rodney and his 327 career saves has been worth 7.4 wins-above-replacement, according to Baseball Reference, and is ranked 348th by JAWS, reaching any milestone in saves cannot ensure induction.

Three of the closers at 300 saves have suited up for Colorado, and two of those men, coincidentally, saved one game each with the Rockies.

José Mesa recorded 321 saves and was selected to the All-Star Game twice, finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award with Cleveland in 1995. Todd Jones made one appearance in the Midsummer Classic and put up 319 saves, 135 of which came after his tenure in Denver. Neither man received a vote from the BBWAA.

Other Notables: Jose Mesa, 2013; Todd Jones, 2014; Darren Oliver, 2019

Future Consideration: Wade Davis, 2027

For a period of time, Wade Davis was one of the best relievers in the sport. He may have fallen short of expectations during his time in Denver, but he was a three-time All-Star during his 13-year career. He helped the Kansas City Royals win their first championship in 30 years and recorded the final out of the 2015 World Series.

Write A Comment

>
X