As we near the 2012 MLB trade deadline, there is a strong possibility that several position players will be departing after spending part of only one season with the Rockies. Ramon Hernandez and Marco Scutaro immediately come to mind, with others perhaps being on the block as well. As the following list will show, those guys certainly aren't the only contributing players that have only spent one season in the rare Rocky Mountain air. While I thought about having the list include guys who spent parts of two different years, but just a full season's worth of games (or less), I ultimately backed away from that and chose to only include players who spent one year in purple, excluding players like Todd Walker and Kaz Matsui.
With that, here are the top five one-year players (by fWAR) in Rockies history...
5. Royce Clayton (2004, 1.7 fWAR)
Clayton was a below-average hitter (80 wRC+) for the last Rockies team to take the field before Gen-R came into full effect, but he still was able to amass a positive WAR due to strong baserunning value and decent defense. Clayton hit .279/.338/.397 on a team that was just bad enough to allow them to be in position to draft Troy Tulowitzki the following summer.
Royce was in the declining phase of his career by that point, as he'd only play parts of three more seasons (all of replacement-level or below variety) before calling it quits. Clayton accumulated a 21.7 WAR in parts of 17 big league seasons, with his best year coming in 1997 with the Cardinals.
4. Jeffrey Hammonds (2000, 1.9 fWAR)
The Rockies acquired Hammonds in a trade with Cincinnati prior to the 2000 season. The guy who went the other direction? Only Dante Bichette, who was one of the most beloved figures in the short history of franchise. Hammonds was a 2.5 WAR player the year before with the Reds, posting a 110 wRC+ while hitting 17 homers in limited playing time. While slightly below-average defensively, Hammonds was nowhere near the shitshow that Bichette was in the outfield, hence he was able to out-perform Bichette WAR-wise that season. He duplicated his wRC+ from the year before while upping his homer output to 20 and being named to the NL All-Star team.
Hammonds would sign with Milwaukee as a free agent following the 2000 season, getting a three-year deal in excess of $22 million. Unfortunately for them, he would never be able to produce at the level he did in 1999 and 2000, as he combined to put up about 1 WAR before being dealt to the Giants midway through the 2003 season. Hammonds played parts of 13 seasons in the big leagues, falling just short of the 10 fWAR mark.
3. Chris Stynes (2003, 2.4 fWAR)
Stynes, too, was nearing the end of his big league career when he signed on with the Rockies prior to the 2003 season. Slotted in as the everyday third baseman, Stynes wound up having the second-best season of his career, mostly due to exceptional defense at the hot corner, posting a 14.7 UZR/150. Offensively, Chris was a bit of a liability, posting an 82 wRC+ while hitting .255/.335/.415, but he was a pretty good baserunner, which also contributed to the relatively-high WAR total.
He would only play one more major league season, posting a .2 WAR with the Pirates in 2004. He was a career 8.1 fWAR player.
Continue past the jump for the top two one-year position players in Rockies history.
2. Miguel Olivo (2010, 3.0 fWAR) - Read our full review of Olivo's 2010 season here.
It's easy to forget just how good Olivo was during the first four months of 2010. It's also easy to forget that the Rockies were one of the better teams in the National League for the majority of that season as well, and Olivo was a big reason why. Through the month of July, Olivo was hitting .306/.359/.526 while starting the majority of the games over Chris Iannetta (in whom the Rockies had zero faith, which was the reason Olivo was brought on in the first place). Sadly, Miguel completely tanked during the season's final two months, posting a miserable .190/.215/.286 line down the stretch.
Olivo was traded to the Blue Jays for cash considerations following the season. The Jays offered Olivo arbitration (which he declined) in hopes of getting a draft pick (which they did). Olivo would go on to sign with the Mariners, where he remains today. He was replacement-level last year, and has been below that so far in 2012. Barring an unforeseen late-career resurgence, 2010 will have likely been the peak of Olivo's fairly-solid career, which has lasted a decade so far.
1. Jeromy Burnitz (2004, 3.2 fWAR)
Prior to signing with the Rockies before the 2004 season, Burnitz already had ties with the organization due to a massive trade in 2002. Part of a four-team, 11-player trade that sent Ross Gload, Craig House, and Alex Ochoa out of Denver and brought in Benny Agbayani and Todd Zeile, Burnitz landed in New York with the Mets and put together a couple of high-power, low-average campaigns before heading to the mountains. He would enjoy a very fine season in purple pinstripes, finishing in the top 25 in MVP voting after posting a 117 wRC+ backed by a .283/.356/.559 line and 37 homers.
As was the case with most of these other guys, Burnitz would only play a couple more seasons in the big leagues, as he finished up with the Pirates in 2006. In 14 seasons, he hit 315 homers (averaging 22.5 per year) and finished as an above-average offensive performer in terms of wRC+ (109) and OPS+ (112). Surprisingly, he only appeared in one All-Star Game, and that came in 1999 during a season in which he finished with a 140 wRC+ for the Brewers.
Five who just missed the cut: Jerald Clark (1993, 1.5 fWAR); Mark Ellis (2011, 1.4 fWAR); Tyler Colvin (2012, 1.3 fWAR); Tom Goodwin (2000, 1.2 fWAR); Dustan Mohr (2005, 1.1 fWAR).