Previous Sessions in the WAR Lords Series:
Now that I've discussed the greatest Rockies ever by position according to WAR, I'll summarize my data and reveal my All-Time Rockies squad. In all, 224 Rockies have been weighed, measured, and (mostly) been found wanting in this quest, yet some have clearly risen above the rest.
Of course, due to the fact that the Rockies' history is only 17 years old, there isn't exactly a deep pool of players to choose from in this study. Therefore, I will be ranking all players who produced a career WAR of over 3 wins at a position for the Rockies or was a significant player for the team.
Here was my methodology:
1. I only used stats accumulated when they played for the Rockies.
2. The categories used were: career with Rockies, best three consecutive years with Rockies (establishes average production), and best single year with the Rockies (establishes peak production).
3. If the players spent less than three years with the Rockies, their career total was used in the other metrics as well. If the player was at different positions for different years, the player would be considered for the position in which he had the most starts (or greatest impact, at my discretion) for the Rockies.
4. The players were ranked in each category. Those ranks were added and averaged out--the lowest average rank was the most valuable Rockie.
5. The data used was only for seasons that were completed (e.g. not 2009).
Remember, I'm using Sean Smith's historical WAR database (not Fangraphs) to compile these numbers (with a big assist to the fantastic Baseball Reference; here is the glossary of the terms Smith uses and an explanation of WAR's calculation for position players and pitchers. Note: the calculation that Smith uses is different than the one used in my article, so the numbers at Fangraphs will be slightly different than the ones I present in these articles.
After the jump I'll outline the greatest (and worst) Rockies squad as found using my methodology, as well as the best single year performances.
The All-Time Greats
Remember, this ranking takes into account best career WAR, best consecutive 3-year WAR period, and best single WAR year to accurately capture a player's greatness and to mitigate somewhat the fact that WAR is a counting stat and is heavily influenced by longevity. Slash stats are (Career WAR / 3 Year WAR / 1 Year WAR).
C: Jeff Reed (1996-1999) (4.3 / 4.6 / 1.8)
1B: Todd Helton (1997-2008) (53.9 / 21.7 / 8.8)
2B: Eric Young (1993-1997) (9.5 / 7.3 / 3.8)
3B: Garrett Atkins (2003-2008) (11.1 / 10.8 / 6.4)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (2006-2008) (6.2 / 6.2 / 5.6)
LF: Matt Holliday (2004-2008) (16.9 / 15.9 / 7.3)
CF: Juan Pierre (2000-2002) (3.0 / 3.0 / 2.4)
RF: Larry Walker (1995-2004) (44.1 / 18.3 / 9.0)
Vinny Castilla (1993-1999, 2004, 2006) (15.1 / 10.1 / 4.5)
Ellis Burks (1994-1998) (10.8 / 10 / 7.6)
Andres Galarraga (1993-1997) (11.3 / 6.3 / 3.6)
Jamey Carroll (2006-2007) (5.1 / 5.1 / 4.3)
Chris Iannetta (2006-2008) (3.2 / 3.2 / 2.7)
1. Eric Young
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Larry Walker
4. Todd Helton
5. Matt Holliday
6. Garrett Atkins
7. Juan Pierre
8. Jeff Reed
SP1: Pedro Astacio (1997-2001) (9.9 / 9.3 / 5.3)
SP2: Aaron Cook (2002-2008) (10.3 / 7.3 / 3.4)
SP3: Jason Jennings (2001-2006) (9.1 / 6.6 / 4.2)
SP4: Kevin Ritz (1994-1998) (6.6 / 6.5 / 3.9)
SP5: Armando Reynoso (1993-1996) (7.6 / 5.0 / 3.1)
Bullpen (in order of importance):
Steve Reed (1993-1997, 2003-2004) (9.2 / 5.6 / 3.1)
Brian Fuentes (2002-2008) (8.8 / 5.2 / 2.7)
Curtis Leskanic (1993-1999) (5.2 / 3.2 / 3.1)
Bruce Ruffin (1993-1997) (5.7 / 4.6 / 1.9)
Jerry Dipoto (1997-2000) (4.7 / 4.4 / 2.1)
Jose Jimenez (2000-2003) (4.2 / 4.2 / 2.3)
Darren Holmes (1993-1997) ( (3.8 / 3.6 / 2.3)
The construction of this team historically tells us that in the last few years the Rockies have played several of the best position players in team history (three of them are on this squad). After 2009 is completed Chris Iannetta will supplant Jeff Reed at starting catcher while several other players shoot up the leader boards.
From a pitching standpoint, the bullpen is heavily comprised of guys that were in the 1997 bullpen (five of them!). After this year not much will change as far as relievers go, but Ubaldo Jimenez's stellar 2009 will place him in the rotation as the second-ranked starting pitcher. It should be noted that Ellis Burks would probably supplant Juan Pierre in center field.
The team that is best by my metrics is by and large the best team by Career and 3 Year WAR totals too, but there are definitely some interesting outlier seasons by others that shake up the best single year roster.
The Greatest Single Season Performances
Collected below is an unholy amalgamation of the best individual seasons by position in Rockies history. If these players had all produced at this level in the same year, they would have produced 67.2 batting WAR (20.4 off the bench), 19.2 relief WAR, and 22.1 starting pitching WAR for a total of 88.1 WAR. This team should statistically win 136.7 games out of 162 (a replacement level team would win 48.6, or 30% of its games).
C: Chris Iannetta (2008) 2.7
1B: Todd Helton (2000) 8.8
2B: Jamey Carroll (2006) 4.3
3B: Garrett Atkins (2006) 6.4
SS: Troy Tulowitzki (2007) 5.6
LF: Ellis Burks (1996) 7.6
CF: Juan Pierre (2001) 2.4
RF: Larry Walker (1997) 9.0
Matt Holliday (2007) 7.3
Vinny Castilla (1998) 4.5
Kazuo Matsui (2007) 4.1
Eric Young (1996) 2.7
Jeff Reed (1998) 1.8
1. Jamey Carroll
2. Ellis Burks
3. Larry Walker
4. Todd Helton
5. Garrett Atkins
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Chris Iannetta
8. Juan Pierre
SP1: Pedro Astacio (1999) 5.3
SP2: Joe Kennedy (2004) 4.7
SP3: Jason Jennings (2006) 4.2
SP4: Marvin Freeman (1994) 4.0
SP5: Kevin Ritz (1995) 3.9
Bullpen (in order of importance):
Obviously I'd play Holliday in left field and shift Burks to center, improving the lineup (and overall WAR) immensely, but those were the best players by WAR at their position in one season. From this year's team, Carlos Gonzalez is close to surpassing Juan Pierre, while Ubaldo Jimenez will jump atop the starting rotation, where he will perhaps be joined by Jason Marquis (depending on how his last start turns out). I'll talk more about this next week.
Rockies fans have been privileged enough to witness in the last couple of years some of the greatest seasons ever--Smith's WAR calculations are park-adjusted, so when Coors Field changed due to the humidor's implementation so did the formula for calculating WAR. As a result, early pitchers get a large boost (and hitters a large detraction) relative to today's players because of the pitcher's hell that was early Coors Field/Mile High.
Single Season Goats
This would be the worst single-season lineup the Rockies could put on the field (worst players starting). The sad thing is that many of them did play a large role for the Rockies. The damage: -15.9 hitting WAR (-11.2 from the starting lineup), -7.5 relief WAR, and -8.5 SP WAR for a total of -31.9 wins above replacement. This team should statistically win 16.7 games out of 162.
C: Kirt Manwaring (1997) -2.1
1B: John Vander Wal (1997) -0.7
2B: Luis A. Gonzalez (2006) -1.0
3B: Vinny Castilla (1993) -0.5 [soon to be supplanted by Garrett Atkins, 2009 (-0.9)]
SS: Neifi Perez (1998) -1.2 (and yes, he played all 162 games)
LF: Dante Bichette (1999) -2.8
CF: Choo Freeman (2004) -1.2
RF: Brad Hawpe (2008) -1.7
1. Neifi Perez
2. Choo Freeman
3. Vinny Castilla
4. Dante Bichette
5. Brad Hawpe
6. John Vander Wal
7. Kirt Manwaring
8. Luis A. Gonzalez
Bullpen (in order of suckitude):
This team is horrible, but some of the names on the list were just having a statistical anomaly of a bad season or were getting their first look at major league hitting/pitching. In fact, several went on to have nice careers. Several of them did not, and for good reason.
Next week, I'll look at how the 2009 Rockies performed individually and as a team from a value standpoint.