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Baseball Hall of Fame voting history for the Colorado Rockies, 1993-2021: Part Two (Helton, Galarraga and Veterans Committee candidates)

Patrick Lyons Avatar
January 19, 2022

Now that Gil Hodges has been selected by the Golden Days Era Committee to be enshrined in National Baseball Hall of Fame, every player who has received at least 50% of the vote in a year has made it to Cooperstown.

Todd Helton appears set to reach that mark in his 4th appearance on the ballot.

Before you make a reservation for that hamlet in upstate New York, we still don’t know the actual year we’ll see his plaque beside Larry Walker and the rest of the ghosts that have populated baseball tales for decades before even your parents were born.

The road to the Hall of Fame is a long one, as players need at least 10 seasons in MLB to even be considered.

Opening Day 2022 will mark the 10th season for Nolan Arenado. Even if the production of this nine-time Gold Glove Award winner begins to fall off, there will still be a strong case for him to become another Rockies player elected to that hallowed Hall.

Sep 11, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) fields and throws to first base in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The following is a comprehensive list of every infielder, relief pitcher and coach from the Rockies organization who have made even a single prestigious Hall of Fame ballot.

Infielders

Walt Weiss – 2006 ballot, 1 vote (0.2%)

Andrés Galarraga – 2010 ballot, 22 votes (4.1%)

Vinny Castilla – 2012 ballot, 6 votes (1.0%)

Jason Giambi – 2020, 6 votes (1.5%)

Before Walt Weiss became the sixth manager in franchise history, he was the shortstop for four seasons between 1994-97. The 1988 AL Rookie of the Year made one All-Star Team in his fourteen year career and won a World Series with the Oakland Athletics in 1989. 

Sep 29, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss (22) talking with fans before the start of the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

Andrés “Big Cat” Galarraga revitalized his career in Denver after two lackluster seasons in Montreal and St. Louis in 1991 and 1992, respectively. In five years with the Rockies, he amassed more bWAR than in his eight seasons with Montreal.

During his 19-year career, Galarraga received five All-Star Game invites, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Slugger Awards, two Comeback Player of the Year Awards following returns from cancer treatment, and finished in the top 10 of NL MVP voting in eight different seasons.

Current Special Assistant to the General Manager Vinny Castilla got his first opportunity to become a starter with the Rockies and made the most of it after two brief stints with Atlanta in 1991-92. He was selected to two All-Star Games, won three Silver Slugger Awards at third base, and tallied MVP votes in four separate seasons.

Ranked ahead of Hall of Famers such as Tony Pérez and Orlando Cepeda, Giambi is regarded as the 26th-greatest first base of all-time, according to JAWS. As a five-time selection the mid-Summer Classic and 2000 AL MVP, Giambi’s positive clubhouse presence and penchant for memorable moments while in Colorado have helped his image following a public apology for use of performance-enhancing drugs after the BALCO scandal.

Honorable Mentions: Howard Johnson – 2001 ballot, 0 votes; Todd Zeile – 2010 ballot, 0 votes; Lenny Harris – 2011 ballot, 0 votes; Tony Womack – 2012 ballot, 0 votes; Eric Young, Sr. – 2012 ballot, 1 vote (0.2%); Royce Clayton – 2013 ballot, 0 votes; Todd Walker – 2013 ballot, 0 votes; Jeff Cirillo – 2013 ballot, 0 votes; Melvin Mora – 2017 ballot, 0 votes

Future Consideration: Justin Morneau (2022), José Reyes (2024), Troy Tulowitzki (2025), Mark Reynolds (2025), Ian Desmond (2025), Daniel Murphy (2026)

Justin Morneau had a solid 14-year career, earning a spot on the AL All-Star Team four times and winning the 2006 AL MVP. Struck down with post-concussion syndrome during the prime of his career, his resurgence with the Rockies resulted in the NL batting title in 2014. He’s on the current 2022 ballot, but appears shy of the 5% threshold to stick around for a second year. 

If it wasn’t for the trade that brought him over from the Toronto Blue Jays, José Reyes may be one of the best players that most people may forget had suited up for Colorado. The speedy shortstop was a four-time All-Star with the New York Mets and ultimately had a quick exit from the Rockies after just 47 games, making way for the surprising debut of Trevor Story to open 2016.

Troy Tulowitzki is the infield version of Larry Walker: amazing abilities when healthy, but injuries tamped down his final statistics. Tulo racked up five All-Star nods, two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and MVP votes in six seasons before being traded to Toronto in 2015. 

Jul 8, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) comes off the field in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Ranked 27th by JAWS for shortstops, he’s just out of range for Hall of Famers at the position. It should be noted that Tulowitzki is only two places behind Nomar Garciaparra, a player who was able to make a second ballot. The Rockies single-season leader in defensive wins-above-replacement (3.9 in 2007) will first appear on the 2025 ballot after playing five games with New York Yankees in 2019.

Relief Pitchers

Jose Mesa – 2013 ballot, 0 votes

Todd Jones – 2014 ballot, 0 votes

LaTroy Hawkins – 2021, 2 votes (0.5%)

While 31 relievers have ever accumulated 300 saves in a season, just eight of those firemen have been enshrined in Cooperstown. Considering a player like Fernando Rodney with his 325 career saves has accumulated a career bWAR of just 7.4 and is ranked 348th by JAWS, reaching that milestone for saves won’t exactly ensure an induction.

Three of the 31 closers with 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 two All-Star teams, finishing second in the AL Cy Young Award voting with Cleveland in 1995. Todd Jones put up 319 saves, 135 of which came after his tenure in Denver, with just one appearance in the Midsummer Classic.

LaTroy Hawkins spent 21-seasons in the Majors for 11 different teams and pitched in 1,042 games, 10th-most all-time. He played for Colorado for three years in two stints. He pitched in the 2007 World Series for the Rockies and was included in the Tulowitzki trade to Toronto. In 2014, he saved 23 games as the oldest player (41) in the NL.

Jul 11, 2021; Denver, CO, USA; American League manager Latroy Hawkins leaves the mound in the fifth inning against the National League of the 2021 MLB All Star Futures Game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mention: Darren Oliver – 2019 ballot, 0 votes

Future Consideration: Huston Street (2023), Wade Davis (2027)

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

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

Coaches

Dwight Evans – 1997-99 ballot, 49 votes in 1998 (10.4%)

Ken Griffey Sr. – 1997 ballot, 22 votes (4.7%)

Carney Lansford – 1998 ballot, 3 votes (0.6%)

Colorado boasts several former ballplayers who had impressive careers before joining the organization as coaches.

Dwight Evans, hitting coach in 1994, stayed on the ballot for three years after a 20-year career primarily with Boston. Dewey won eight Gold Gloves in right field and is considered the 15th greatest to play the position by JAWS, just behind Tony Gwynn and ahead of other Hall of Famers such as Dave Winfield and Vladimir Guerrero.

Known mostly by recent generations of baseball fans for his offspring, the original Ken Griffey Sr. served as hitting coach and first base coach for the 1996 Rockies following 19 seasons that saw him win back-to-back World Series with the Big Red Machine in 1975-76.

Jul 12, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; U.S. Team manager Ken Griffey, Sr. (right) talks with former MLB player Rollie Fingers (left) during the All Star Futures Game with the World Team at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Considered the 44th-best third basemen according to JAWS, Carney Lansford played 15 years primarily with Oakland, winning a ring with them in 1989. He served as Colorado’s hitting coach in 2011-12.

Honorable Mention: Amos Otis – 1990 ballot, 0 votes; Dante Bichette – 2007 ballot, 3 votes (0.6%); Toby Harrah – 1992 ballot, 1 vote (0.2%); Eric Young, Sr. – 2012 ballot, 1 vote (0.2%)

Future Consideration: Don Zimmer

A baseball lifer if there ever was one, Zimmer spent 44 years in professional baseball: 12 as a player and 32 as a manager and coach. He was Don Baylor’s right-hand man through the organization’s first three seasons, serving as the bench and third base coach.

As a manager with Boston during the 1970’s, Zim won 91 games or more in three consecutive seasons, missing the playoffs each year without the benefit of a Wild Card. He did win the 1989 NL Manager of the Year with the Cubs before coaching the New York Yankees to four World Series Championship after leaving Colorado.

Popeye, as he was affectionately referred to due to his likeness to the cartoon character, also won two rings as a player with the Dodgers, once in Brooklyn (1955) and once in Los Angeles (1959).

Managers

Don Baylor – 1994-95, 12 votes in 1995 (2.6%)

Buddy Bell – 1995 ballot, 8 votes (1.7%)

Before becoming the first manager in franchise history, Baylor was the 1979 AL MVP with the Angels. He won three Silver Slugger Awards over a 19-year career and was plunked a remarkable 267 times, leading the league in hit-by-pitches on eight different occasions.

Buddy Bell is the son of a big leaguer (Gus) and the father of two players (David and Mike). A five-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, Bell attended the same high school in Ohio as two other Hall of Famers, Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin.

Managers, so long as they didn’t have an extensive career as a player, are in a similar category as executives, pioneers, and umpires, as they can only be elected to Cooperstown through a veterans’ committee.

As such, Jim Leyland has an opportunity to join the other 23 managers currently enshrined in the Hall. He won a World Series ring in 1997 along with three NL Manager of the Year Awards, in addition to taking the Pittsburgh Pirates to three consecutive NLCS appearances from 1990-92 and the Detroit Tigers to two World Series in 2006 and 2012.

His 1769 career wins is 18th all-time, more than HOFer Whitey Herzog who has 488 less wins and two less playoff appearances. Leyland is also the only man to win the World Baseball Classic as skipper of Team USA. His one season as Rockies manager in 1999 is far from his finest, quitting on the organization with two more years left on his contract. 

Honorable Mention: Walt Weiss – 2006 ballot, 1 vote (0.2%)

Future Consideration: Joe Girardi, Craig Counsell, Gabe Kapler

Joe Girardi, the first catcher in Rockies history, already has 1,098 wins as a manager. The winner of the 2006 NL Manager of the Year despite a 78-84, the 57-year-old still has a ways to go until he’s considered among the greatest. With a .548 winning percentage and six playoff appearances, including the 2009 World Series, Girardi is on the right path.  

Though early in the managerial careers of former Craig Counsell and Gabe Kapler, the two field generals have been largely successful since transitioning to the dugout. In 2018, Counsell took Milwaukee to within one game of the franchise’s first World Series appearance since 1982. Kapler is coming off the heels of a 107-win season, most in the 139-year history of the Giants’ franchise.

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