The Top Ten Colorado Rockies Batting Performances
Andres Galarraga 1993 Stats
Dante Bichette 1995 Stats
Ellis Burks 1996 Stats
Larry Walker courtesy of the SI Vault
Larry Walker 1997 Stats MVP
Vinny Castilla 1998 Stats
Todd Helton 2000 Stats
Juan Pierre 2001 Stats
Matt Holiday 2007 Stats
Troy Tulowitzki 2009 Stats
Carlos Gonzalez 2010 Stats
Andres Galarraga first year in the Rockies inaugural season set the standard high for all future Rockies hitters. There have been many great Rockies hitters in their 18 years of existence, but these are my Top Ten Colorado Rockies Batting Performances and the reasons why.
Don Baylor the Rockies first manager in 1993, was Andres hitting coach in St. Louis the previous year and encouraged the Rockies to sign him, and they did just that. Galarraga rewarded the expansion Rockies with a blistering hitting performance, hitting .430 on June 15 He finished the year at .370 despite numerous injuries. He had 56 multi hit games, a little less than half his total games for the season.
Baylor helped Andres modify his stance so that he would be able to see the pitch with both eyes before swinging by opening up his stance, this also allowed him to get to the inside pitch and drive the ball the other way, which in spacious Mile High and Coors field will raise any bodies average significantly. His nimble feet and above average glove earned him the nickname The Big Cat and two gold gloves. But his willingness to try something new by altering his stance dramatically produced some power numbers that gave him the distinction of a true Blake Street Bomber!
Dante Bitchette's1995 hitting performance is what got the Blake Street Bombers Started in the early nineties. Although he struck out a lot for having such a high average his memorablle battles at Coors Field set the tone for hitters to come. Hitting a walk off two run homer in the 13th inning to give the Rockies a home coming debut win was a classic battle. His timely hitting helped an organization only two years old get to the playoffs. In my opinion an MVP year. He had other great years in Colorado but this one stands out.
His first's that season are unparalleled for any hitter that did not win the MVP award as well. He was first in HR's, RBI's, Total bases, SLG. Percentage, Hits, and extra base hits and third in AVG.
Next year Ellis Burks put together the season of his career with a dominating hitting spree that did not let up. He smoked NL pitchers to the tune of .344 with 93 extra base hits in1996 on his way to what was arguable an MVP year. Although he struck out over a hundred times that year his on base percentage was well above .400 and slugging above .600.
He led all hitters in runs scored 142, total bases 392, Slugging percentage .639 and extra base hits 93, was second in hits 211 and doubles 45, and fifth in home runs 40 and RBI 128.
He played in 156 games, stole 32 bases and only got caught six times, another MVP season shunned because off Coors field.
Larry Walker 1997 Colorado season was one for the ages as he flirted with 400 most of the year, settling for .366 and an MVP trophy. He had 33 stolen bases to go along with his 99 extra base hits and .720 SLG. percentage. He open a can of Canadian whip-ass on the National League and took no prisoners.
His 409 total bases was the most ever by a player since Stan 'the Man' Musial did it 1948, he also is the only player ever to have more than 25 stolen bases and a slugging percentage higher than .700, while striking out only 90 times to go with 78 walks. He finished with 12 outfield assist to complete a great year.
1998 for Vinny Castilla was nothing short of great, he played in all 162 games and batted .319. He had a great year for one of the hardest positions to play on the field and had career highs in hits (206) to go along with 46 homers and 144 driven in. He score over a hundred runs while batting deep in the line up, at fifth or sixth.
Vinny's ability to hit the high cheese was uncanny and many tried to get one by him and it usually ended up in the seats. Originally signed as a Short Stop in the Atlanta system his athleticism gave him a distinct advantage over other third baseman. One more dimension in a line up that was feared through out the NL West.
Todd Helton demoralized NL West pitching in 2000 finishing the year with a .372 average (best all time by a Rockie) in almost 700 plate appearances (697). He lead the league in hitting, hits (216), doubles (59), RBI's (147), OBP. (.463), and Slg.% (.698). He also had almost twice as many walks as strike outs 103 to 61 to go with his 405 total bases, another first. By far this is the most dominate season of any of the vaunted Blake Street Bombers, with Walker's '97 season being second.
Todd left no doubt that he had arrived with a break out year in 2000 on his way to four straight Silver Slugger awards and five straight All Star appearances. Over shadowed most his early career by the other super stars on the Rockies, he staked his claim for the best all around hitting performance by a Rockie ever.
After 14 seasons I have heard the debate of whether or not he deserves HOF consideration, since I don't have a vote it matters very little, but to me their is much more that goes into a HOFer than just numbers. He is dedicated and is loyal to his team and accomplished at his craft, after all it it isn't his fault he plays half his games at Coors field.
The following year another player for the Rockies had a breakout year that has gone largely unrecognized and overshadowed by the famous Blake Street Bombers, and that belongs to Juan Pierre's dazzling display in 2001.
In his first full season as a Rockie he had 202 hits in 683 Plate Appearances and struck out only 29 times. He had almost fifty stolen bases while playing the hardest position at Coors field and leading off. The Rockies have been searching for a center fielder as good ever since they included him in a deal to get rid of Hamptom.
Juan went on to have a stellar career and win a World Series ring with Florida, he is a proven winner and has had even better years than his rookie season. The quality of players they have traded away could fill an All Star team.
Speaking of which this brings us to our next hitter Matt Holiday, who just won a World Series playing for the Cardinals. Matt's breakout year and best so far statistically is the solid season he put together for the Rockies in 2007, the year the Rockies made an incredible run to the playoffs winning 21 of their last 22 and beating San Diego in the 163rd game to advance to the playoffs.
Matt was the anchor of that ball club and had an outstanding contribution in every major offensive category. He came in second in the MVP voting while compiling a 340 average. He lead the league in average (.340), hits (216), doubles (50), RBI's (137) and total bases (386).
While Troy Tulowitzki may not have had the greatest offensive numbers other Rockies hitters have had, his 2009 season was remarkable in the fact that he carried his ball club to the promised land through sheer will power alone. His awesome play at short and his breakout year at the plate were the right combination to propel his team to the playoffs with another improbable late season surge.
He only finished with a 161 hits, but the grit, determination and leadership displayed during crunch time in two magical seasons 2007 and 2009 has shown he is capable of so much more, with plenty of seasons ahead to do them in. He is the Rockies future and franchise player and his offensive numbers do not overshadow his defensive prominence playing the hardest position on the field.
Carlos Gonzalez put his sweet swing to the test last year and came up with a remarkable season for such a young player. He finished the season first in total bases (351), hits (197) and average .336 and second in RBI's (117) and fourth in HR's with 34. He committed only one error in 145 games in the outfield and won both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award.
His grace as an athlete and baseball player showed in his range as an outfielder and speed on the bases. He finished the year with a 111 runs and 26 stolen bases and when he learns to cut down his strikeouts he will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Cargo as the faithful call him is the first player since 1984 to hit for the cycle and hit a walk-off homer in the same game, which he did in his magical year in 2010!
Every Rockies hitter stats will always be taken with a grain of salt due to the Coors Field stigma, but my contention is that one must still hit the ball regardless of how far it travels. Had these players played some where else perhaps their seasons would be looked at differently.
My belief is that now that Coors Field has solidified it's reputation as a hitter friendly park it has changed the way hitters approach their at bats there. Knowing that even a ball that is not hit squarely will travel, players are more conscious about putting wood on the ball and extending AB's and being patient and getting a good pitch to hit.
In the early nineties with expansion a lot of young pitchers were used and later as two more teams were added to an already dwindling supply of good arms, contributed a lot to the power numbers of many hitters in the last twenty years of MLB.
Will Rockies players eclipse these seasons in the future, I certainly hope so and look forward to the next generation of hitters to come in and open a can of Rocky Mountain whip-ass and put fear back into the heart's of NL West pitchers. I hope you enjoyed my top ten Colorado Rockies batting performances, feel free to leave a comment.
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