Jamey Wright, the Rockies first round pick and 28th overall selection from the 1993 amateur draft, is retiring at the age of 41. Wright last pitched in the majors in 2014, when he threw about 70 innings for the Dodgers in relief.
Wright is a remnant of the pre-humidor era at Coors Field. That era overlapped with baseball's juiced era, which all combined to create one of the most prolific run environments in the game's history. All of this has to be kept in mind when looking over Wright's career as a member of the Rockies. While it's hard to see today, Wright had a pretty decent run with the team.
From 1996 to 1999, Wright tossed 541⅔ innings over fours seasons for the Rockies. It was the second most innings pitched in Coors Field's pre-humidor era, which ranged from 1995 to 2001, behind only Pedro Astacio. On the surface, Wright's numbers are ugly. He had a 5.57 ERA and a 5.35 FIP in those seasons. One of this primary issues was walking batters. He walked four per nine as a member of the Rockies, which isn't a good mark in any run environment. He also didn't strike out very many batters. His 4.3 strikeouts per nine innings was below league average, though those numbers looked different then than they do now. From 1996 to 1999, league average K/9 was about 6.5 per nine innings; in 2015, it was 7.73.
Given his ERA, FIP, and shaky peripherals, it's easy to dismiss Wright's time with the Rockies. Everyone knows, however, that calling Coors Field home prior to 2002 was a sure way to inflate a pitcher's stats. It was worse then than it is now. We know that we have to mentally adjust the numbers, even if it's by saying, "yeah, but Coors." Luckily, sabermetricians have put a number to these adjustments. We don't have to rely on guesses. While they are not perfect, adjusted stats give us a good idea of the kind of pitcher Wright was like from 1996-1999. Each of the leading adjusted metrics—Baseball Prospectus' DRA-, FanGraphs' ERA-, and Baseball Reference's ERA+—all say pretty much the same thing: Wright was slightly below average during his time with the Rockies. His contemporary comparables are guys like Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes. Nobody would mistake them for stars, but it's also easy to see why they are desirable.
"Slightly below average" isn't something one wants attached to a career postmortem, but it fits here. The adjustments illustrate just how bonkers Coors Field played in the late 1990s. In one of the toughest pitching environment's baseball has ever seen, Jamey Wright threw over 500 innings from ages 21 to 24. Against all odds, he was only slightly below average. Even though he had to confront an ERA in the mid 5.00s, it did not reduce him or his confidence to ashes. Indeed, it's just a small part of a career that lasted 19 major league seasons.