As the year rapidly draws to a close, naturally there are things that will be forgotten to the annals of time. Every year, every baseball season, the same thing happens. A player or event will surface that will be forgotten by a large swathe of fans. This of course applies to the Colorado Rockies well, which is a damn shame. There are so many fun and interesting players that fade from the fan-bases’ collective memory. A great example of this is the often overlooked All-Star delegation from the year 2000.
The Rockies sent three players to the 2000 All-Star Game at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia, none of whom started. All of the Rockies’ previous All-Stars save for Larry Walker were no longer with the team. Andrés Galarraga was 39 years old and representing the Atlanta Braves as an All-Star. Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette were both traded in the offseason to Tampa Bay and Cincinnati respectively. Ellis Burks and Eric Young Sr. were not All-Stars despite having strong seasons the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs. Walker himself was sidelined for most of the 2000 season with a stress fracture in his right elbow. The Rockies sent a delegation with none of the usual suspects—including two first time All-Stars—to Atlanta, with a soon-to-be familiar face leading the bunch.
26-year old first baseman Todd Helton was elected to his first All-Star Game—the first of five consecutive appearances— as a reserve and the only member of the Rockies who had been with the team prior to 2000. Helton’s 2000 season would end up one of the best of his career. He led the major leagues in hits (216), doubles (59), RBIs (147), batting average, OBP, SLG (.372/.463/.698), OPS (1.162) and total bases (405). In addition to his All-Star appearance, the young Toddfather also won the National League batting title, his first Silver Slugger, and finished fifth overall in NL MVP voting (though let’s be honest he should have won it).
Third baseman Jeff Cirillo came to the Rockies via a three-way trade with the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics, where he proceeded to post two very strong seasons in purple. As the Opening Day third baseman, Cirillio was worth 3.4 rWAR while slashing .326/.392/.477 with 11 home runs. His 53 doubles is the third highest in a single season, trailing Todd Helton in 2000 and 2001. His Rockies single season record of 12 sacrifice flies helped power him to an excellent 115 RBIs and his second All-Star appearance. Cirillo had another very strong season in 2001, but did not earn a repeat All-Star election. His offensive production combined well with his solid defense on the hot corner in the Rockies’ first seasons without Vinny Castilla. He was traded to the Seattle Mariners in the deal that brought reliever Brian Fuentes in the fold, but Jeff Cirillo remains one of my favorite lesser known Rockies and his All-Star season should be celebrated as part of Rockies history.
Rounding out the Rockies’ unusual delegation was outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, the Opening Day left fielder. Originally a first round draft pick with the Baltimore Orioles, Hammonds was acquired that offseason (along with sidearm reliever Stan Belinda) from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for the much beloved Dante Bichette. Hammonds immediately had some big shoes to fill by replacing Bichette at Coors Field. He rose to the occasion splendidly with a career season by slashing .335/.395/.529 (all career highs) with 20 home runs and 106 RBIs. Hammonds ended up moving to right field in place of the injured Larry Walker for the majority of the 2000 season, but also worked in left and center fields as well. Hammonds earned the first and only All-Star nomination of his career as a reserve. The Rockies declined to bring Hammonds back for the 2001 season, and he signed a multi-year contract with the Brewers. However, injuries plagued him for the rest of his career.
2000 was a strange year indeed, where a baby-faced Toddfather and two guys named Jeff were the Rockies’ delegation to the All-Star Game. Though less so for Helton, it often feels like these strange moments in Rockies history are lost to time and memory. I love highlighting lesser known parts Rockies history, and I look to bring more to you in the future.
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Rox Pile’s Aaron Hurt examines the value of three major contracts signed prior to the 2019 season: Manny Machado with the San Diego Padres, Bryce Harper with the Philadelphia Phillies, and Nolan Arenado’s extension with the Rockies. Hurt asks one major question: was it worth it?
After 11 seasons with the Seattle Mariners, third baseman Kyle Seager is retiring from professional baseball a one-team wonder. Initially announced via the twitter of his wife Julie, Seager’s retirement comes after a strong 2021 campaign in which he hit 35 home runs. Any player sticking out there entire career with one team is admirable, especially when the team hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2001. We wish Kyle a heartfelt congratulations on a career well done, and hope he has a lovely retirement.
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