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Rockies Retro: Top One-Year Pitchers in Franchise History

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Darren Oliver #28 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 30, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 30: Darren Oliver #28 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 30, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
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Last week, I wrote about the top five position players to only spend one season with the Rockies over the course of the history of the franchise. The piece was inspired by the fact that there could be several players on the trading block, and most of those are guys who just came to Colorado at the start of this season. One such player who fits that criteria that has already been dealt is Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie obviously performed very poorly during his short stint with the Rockies, posting a 6.35 ERA and -0.7 fWAR before being dealt to the Royals last week in exchange for Jonathan Sanchez. However, not every hurler who spent a similarly short period of time in Denver did so because of lackluster pitching. In fact, these five guys did somewhat well (especially considering the ballpark in which they pitched half of their games) while in purple pinstripes.

5. Rolando Arrojo (2000, 2.0 fWAR)

Arrojo was the "ace" of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays (and one-time All-Star) before being traded to the Rockies along with Aaron Ledesma in exchange for fan favorite Vinny Castilla prior to the 2000 season. That alone may make you cringe, until you realize that Arrojo was pretty good in a half-season with Colorado. Sure, his record and ERA (5-9, 6.04) were kind of abysmal, but he made the most of pitching in a pinball machine atmosphere by getting the majority of his outs via groundball. His BABIP-against was .337 while with the Rockies, which was the highest of his career, so he was no doubt the victim of some bad luck. It's worth noting that he also posted the highest strikeout and walk rates of his career while in Denver, as well.

He pitched well enough to accumulate 2.0 WAR before being shipped to Boston along with Mike Lansing 12 years ago today in a deal that brought back, among other forgettables, Jeff Frye and John Wasdin. He went 5-2 with a 5.05 ERA in 13 starts there while seeing his rate stats normalize to his career levels.

4. Julian Tavarez (2000, 2.1 fWAR)

Tavarez was a jack of all trades after arriving in Denver via a waiver claim after the 1999 season. He appeared in 51 games for the Y2K Rockies, making 12 starts and racking up 120 innings pitched. Though he walked nearly as many batters as he struck out (53 walks, 62 K's), Tavarez did about as good of a job as could be expected at the time of keeping the ball in the ballpark, allowing under one long ball per nine innings. As a result, he went 11-5 with a 4.43 ERA (131 ERA+) in what proved to be a nice bounce-back year for the lanky Dominican lefty.

Tavarez signed with the Cubs following that year, and had a decent year before moving to Florida and struggling. Once converted into a full-time reliever in 2003, he would go on to post a very impressive string of 148 innings across two seasons in which he only allowed two home runs. Tavarez would pitch in parts of 17 seasons with 11 different teams before calling it quits following the 2009 season.

3. Masato Yoshii (2000, 2.5 fWAR)

Honestly, there's not a lot about a 6-15 record and 5.86 ERA that screams "valuable pitcher." The wins above replacement statistic isn't perfect, and a lot of that has to do with how it evaluates pitchers. However, one thing that can be said about Yoshii's 2000 season is that he ate innings and was just generally able to "wear it" out on the mound. Yoshii finished in the top 10 of the National League in home runs allowed, earned runs allowed, and losses. A testament to how underwhelming his stuff was is that he struck out less than five batters per nine innings while with the Rockies, and only slightly over that during the course of his five-year career. He did, however, limit his walks about as much as a Rockies pitcher possibly could in those days. Had he not done that, his insane flyball tendencies would have hurt him even more.

*The 2000 Rockies had several valuable pitchers, as you can see here, and that was a big contributing factor as to why they were able to finish with a winning record; with their 82-80 mark, they posted the franchise's only season over .500 during a decade-long stretch from 1997 to 2007.

Click through the jump to see the top two one-year pitchers in Rockies history.

2. Darren Oliver (2003, 2.9 fWAR)

Having just gone through the roughest stretch of his career, Oliver was truly at a crossroads when the Rockies signed him at age 32 before the 2003 season. He posted ERA's of 7.42 and 6.02 in 2000 and '01 before struggling with injuries and demotion during 2002 in Boston and St. Louis. So, when he came to Coors Field and put up a 13-11 record with an ERA just a touch over 5, it caught the attention of people around the league. Numbers like that were extremely rare at Coors Field at that point, and Oliver's new-found ability to keep the ball in the strike zone (his BB/9 rate of 3 was easily the lowest he'd posted in any full season of his career to that point) was a huge reason why. Oliver didn't miss many bats, but he did induce a good amount of grounders, which helped him achieve success.

The Rox chose not to re-sign him following the '03 campaign, so Oliver signed on with the Marlins instead. Fast-forward eight years later, Oliver is still pitching at the big league level, now with the Blue Jays in his 20th MLB season. He's pitching rather well, too; in the midst of his fifth consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA, Oliver has pitched 36.2 innings and allowed just five runs, good for a 1.29 ERA at 41 years of age.

1. Jason Marquis (2009, 4.0 fWAR)

For the first half of the 2009 season, Jason Marquis was no doubt the best pitcher in the Rockies' rotation. Named to the All-Star team that season, Marquis was 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA at the break. He had posted poor peripherals, but he was able to take advantage of aggressive hitters with a deadly sinker that induced two groundouts for every flyout. Unfortunately, Marquis ultimately lived up to his reputation, as he faltered in the second half, eventually finishing the year with a 15-13 record and a 4.04 ERA. Still, his club made the playoffs, marking the tenth time in as many years that a club with Marquis on the roster did so. Performances like this one and this one are a large reason why the Rox were able to get over the hump.

Marquis wasn't given the chance to start in the NLDS against the Phillies, but rather only made one relief appearance (which lasted just one inning). The Rockies would go on to lose that series, resulting in a bitter ending to his otherwise successful tenure as a Rockie. The now 33-year-old righty is currently pitching for the Padres, and is pitching very, very well after a rough start to the year while with the Twins.