With last year’s induction of Larry Walker to the baseball Hall of Fame, the Rockies finally broke through giving the club representation at Cooperstown. Todd Helton, although unlikely to make it this year, seems to have made a big enough leap in voting to follow in Walker’s footsteps at some point in the next several years (more on that later.) The question then becomes, who would be the third Rockie to join MLB’s all-time greats?
While Cargo’s storied career certainly puts him in the conversation, I’m afraid the Coors Field effect would weigh him down enough to keep him out of the Hall. With no other former Rockies possessing a strong enough case to seriously warrant consideration, we’re left with current Rockies and figuring out whether or not they’re on a Cooperstown trajectory.
Surprise! Undoubtedly the easiest part of this exercise is assessing the Rockies star third baseman and his Hall of Fame credentials. As is always the case with active players, the risk of injury or serious decline could take anyone out of the running (except Mike Trout, of course.) But assuming Nolan continues playing moderately well for the remainder of his career, he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame. He’s fourth in all-time WAR for Rockies players, and will easily pass Troy Tulowitzki in 2021 and passing Larry Walker isn’t out of the question assuming Nolan remains in Colorado for a few more years. He’s four home runs away from passing Vinny Castilla for third in Rockies history and his eight gold gloves should give him a boost in the eyes of those who dock players for having their home games at Coors Field. The only other thing keeping Nolan from entering Cooperstown as a Rockie would be a potential trade away from Colorado followed by years of continued dominance.
After Nolan Arenado everything becomes a little cloudy when figuring out what other current Rockies could make the Hall of Fame. Trevor Story certainly has established himself as one of the best shortstops in baseball the last few years but he’s so young that there’s a lot of unpredictability with the rest of his career. Like Arenado, even Story’s status as a Rockie is unsure these days. A trade in the next year would almost guarantee that any Hall of Fame plaque featuring Story would see him wearing another team’s colors. As far as the baseball playing goes, Trevor has gotten off to a great start in crafting a Hall of Fame career. As long as he stays the course, he could very well find himself in Cooperstown one day.
Charlie Blackmon is probably the next most likely member of the team to receive Hall of Fame consideration, but unfortunately, his status as a bit of a late bloomer means this is an uphill battle for Chuck Nazty. At 34 years old, Charlie is running out of time to boost his stats to the levels of other Hall of Famers. His .304 average is certainly a boost, but having only 1,311 career hits and only one season where he topped 200, Charlie’s counting stats aren’t where they need to be, especially for a Coors Field hitter.
In my opinion, the only other player who has shown Hall of Fame talent consistently to this point is Germán Márquez, and even with his incredible raw talent, it takes quite the imagination to picture him making the Hall of Fame. The stuff is certainly there, but pitching in Denver is just too big a hill to climb for Cooperstown consideration. Voters are only just now coming around to the idea that hitters who play at Coors are worthy of consideration and it’s going to take someone on the mound who delivers ‘Ubaldo Jiménez 2010 numbers’ year after year in Denver to give the Rockies a pitching feature in the Hall.
For now, the only thing worth focusing on is whether or not Nolan and Trevor remain with the Rockies. If, and when they do, then we can think a bit more seriously about the next Rockies to find their way to Cooperstown.
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Good news for the Rockies seems to come less and less frequently these days but it looks as if a Todd Helton Hall of Fame induction may be in our future. Surely Helton won’t join Larry Walker this year, but the Toddfather got a huge percentage boost this year, exactly the kind he will need to propel him towards the 75% threshold. The official count will be released in just under three weeks on January 26, but to this point, Helton has been selected on 55.3% of ballots received, the biggest gain of anyone who received votes last year. Helton’s 29.2% mark was nearly double his first year total of 16.5%. At this pace, Helton looks like he is well on his way to becoming the second Hall of Famer in the franchise’s history.
I always find it fun to see where former Rockies are headed and how they perform with their new teams (unless it’s DJ LeMahieu - as we know, that has been anything but fun). Three ex-Rockies could be a good fit on the South side of Chicago where the White Sox are one of the most exciting young teams in baseball. Daniel Murphy, Matt Kemp, and Kevin Pillar all provide extensive big league experience that could pair nicely with the breadth of young talent the White Sox boast. While I never want to see a player do too well after leaving Colorado (again, thinking of you DJ) it would be nice to see these three guys find success elsewhere. The fact that it could be for an AL team makes it a little easier to picture.
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