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Purple Row Rockies Madness: No. 1 Larry Walker vs. No. 1 Todd Helton

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Championship Matchup between two number-one seeds

Due to the cancellation of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, Purple Row is hosting our own Rockies Madness Tournament this year. We selected the 36 best players in Rockies history to determine the best player in franchise history. We sorted them into four regions to force the most interesting matchups: Infielders, Outfielders, Mile High (for relievers and starting pitchers who began their career before the humidor), and Humidor (for starters who began their career after the humidor). All stats are from Baseball Reference.

Larry Walker, Outfielder

1995-2004

Walker Rockies Career Stats

bWAR AB H HR BA/OBP/SLG R RBI SB OPS+
bWAR AB H HR BA/OBP/SLG R RBI SB OPS+
48.3 4076 1361 258 .334/.426/.618 892 848 126 147

Awards

  • Top 10 NL MVP (1995-7th, 1997-1st)
  • 5x Gold Glove (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002)
  • 2x Silver Slugger (1997, 1999)
  • 4x All-Star (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001)
  • Class of 2020 - National Baseball Hall of Fame

Notes

  • Larry Walker led baseball with a .451 on-base percentage from 1997 to 1999. His career OBP in Colorado is .426.
  • His 383 career home runs are 68th most in MLB history.
  • Upon induction, Walker will be the only Hall of Famer with a Rockies cap on his plaque.
  • Walker is the Rockies’ first and only recipient of a National League MVP award (1997).
  • He debuted for the Rockies on April 26, 1995, the first game in Coors Field history. He hit three doubles, one of which tied the game in the ninth inning. Colorado prevailed 11-9 in extra innings.
  • He was the only Rockies player to start in the 1998 MLB All Star Game, played in Colorado.

Why You Should Vote for Him

Todd Helton may have carried the torch for 17 years—but it was Larry Walker that ignited the flame and handed it to him.

A 22-year-old Walker debuted in 1989 for the Montreal Expos, and made a name for himself before Colorado was even awarded a franchise. He spent his first six seasons in Canada, collecting two Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and an All-Star appearance in his homeland north of the U.S. border. Walker placed as high as fifth in the 1992 MVP voting for the Expos, and he was just getting started; the Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque agrees.

Colorado’s acquisition proved to be an instant catalyst. Walker came to Colorado in 1995, propelling the franchise to their first winning season and the fourth best record in the National League. Alongside Andrés Galarraga, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla, the Blake Street Bombers christened Coors Field with a 44-28 home record. The three-year-old franchise made the postseason for the first time ever, and Walker was the piece that brought it all together.

Todd Helton currently remains on the Hall of Fame ballot after collecting 29.2 percent of the vote in 2020. Much can happen between now and 2028 for Helton, but much did happen for Walker in his eligibility. If Helton is the next Rockie elected, Walker was once again carrying the torch and passing it on.

The case for Larry Walker to win 2020 Rockies Madness is rivaled only by his opponent in this final round—but don’t be deceived because you don’t remember Larry Walker like you do Todd Helton.

One of them ignited the flame:

BBWAA Hall of Fame Press Conference Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Todd Helton, First Baseman

1997-2013

Helton Rockies Career Stats

bWAR AB H HR BA/OBP/SLG R RBI SB OPS+
bWAR AB H HR BA/OBP/SLG R RBI SB OPS+
61.8 7962 2519 369 .316/.414/.539 1401 1406 37 133

Awards

  • 5x All-Star (2000-2004)
  • 4x Silver Slugger (2000-2003)
  • 3x Gold Glove (2001, 2002, 2004)
  • 2000 NL Batting Champion

Notes

  • Helton spent all 17 seasons of his MLB career in Colorado
  • He is the all-time Rockies leader for hits (2,159), home runs (369), doubles (592), walks (1,335), runs scored (1,401), and RBI’s (1,406).
  • Helton hit his final home run on September 25, 2013 in his final game at Coors Field.
  • With 592 doubles, Helton is 19th on MLB’s all-time list. He is 81st in home runs with 369.
  • He played 2,247 games with the Rockies, the most in franchise history. Carlos González is second with 1,000 fewer games.
  • In his second year of Hall of Fame voting, Helton appeared on 29.2 percent of ballots.
  • He received a horse as a retirement gift.

Why You Should Vote for Him

If there is an iconic image in Rockies history, surely it it this one:

Daily Camera Archives

Think about everything in this photo: the purple pinstripes and classic black vests; the moment the Rockies clinched their trip to the World Series after a magical run; and Todd Helton, a fairly stoic guy, giving in to the emotion of the moment. Helton remains a cornerstone player. The numbers speak for themselves, and he is probably (deservedly) on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Since his retirement, the Rockies have been trying (expensively and unsuccessfully) to fill a Helton-sized hole at first base. In addition to his baseball skills, Helton served as an important transitional figure (Todd and the Toddlers, anyone?) between the early Rockies and the ones we know today—hence his conversation with a young Nolan Arenado about the need to get off his parents’ cellphone plan.

Arenado has been clear that he doesn’t wish to repeat Helton’s decisions by spending his career with a team that doesn’t win. And who can blame him? As the poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” These are important choices. Arenado will make his. But Rockies fans will forever be grateful that Helton decided to stay.

Because of his skill as a player and his commitment to the Rockies and to fans, Todd Helton should win Rockies Madness.

★ ★ ★

Poll

Purple Row Rockies Madness Champion

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    No. 1 Larry Walker, OF
    (119 votes)
  • 61%
    No. 1 Todd Helton, 1B
    (188 votes)
307 votes total Vote Now