Last week, I wrote about the milestone of a Rockies pitcher, Huston Street, earning a place on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot. With Todd Helton trending in the right direction to become the second Rockie in Cooperstown (he has 75% of the four public ballots submitted so far), there are several Rockies who will be appearing on the ballot over the next few years.
While the biggest splashes on the 2023 Contemporary Era ballot, which is voted on by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee unlike the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, are stars from the Steroid Era like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Shilling, there is one former Rockie in the list: Dale Murphy.
Despite being past his prime, Murphy was signed by the Rockies two days before Opening Day in their inaugural season of 1993. The 37-year-old seven-time All-Star, who was the back-to-back NL MVP in 1982 and 83, only played in 26 games for the Rockies, getting 49 plate appearances. He recorded six hits (one double), drove in seven runs, and scored one. The 18-year MLB veteran was one of the best players of the 1980s and when the Rockies signed him, it was a big deal. Murphy, who played 15 years with Atlanta, wasn’t a Rockie for long, but his totals of 398 homers and career rWAR of 46.5 are impressive. Results for the Contemporary ballot will be released on Dec. 4.
Moving to the 2024 BBWAA ballot, Mr. He-Definitely-Touched-Home-Plate himself will become HOF eligible. That’s right, Matt Holliday. Even though Holiday spent 7.5 years with the Cardinals and only five with the Rockies, his run in Colorado was special. He earned All-Star bids in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and was obviously a key player in the Rocktober World Series run. He hit 130 of his 316 homers and drove in 486 of his 1220 runs in purple. In 2007, when he finished second behind Jimmy Rollins in NL MVP voting, he put up career highs and led the NL in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137), and batting average (.340). He also hit a career-best 36 homers and scored 120 runs.
Holliday finished his career with 44.5 rWAR and helped the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011. While the former outfielder is beloved in Colorado, where he has the eighth best rWAR in team history at 18.6, he might even be more cherished in St. Louis, where he’ll be serving as bench coach next season. It could be a crowded ballot with Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley also being first-year candidates, but Holliday figures to get some votes. Another former Rockie, José Reyes, will also be eligible, but considering the former shortstop was suspended for domestic violence before ever appearing in Colorado and then only played 47 games with the organization, Reyes doesn’t deserve recognition as a Rockie or on the ballot in my book.
Looking ahead to 2025, the greatest shortstop in Rockies history — Troy Tulowitzki — will be eligible to be on the ballot. He spent 9.5 of his 13 MLB seasons in Colorado, but will have a hard time earning votes because of his injury issues. The five-time All-Star only played in over 100 games eight times in his career, but he finished fifth in NL MVP voting in 2010 and 2011, years when he also won Gold Gloves and was absolutely magical in the field. He has the fourth best rWAR in team history at 39.5 (behind only Todd Helton, Larry Walker, and Nolan Arenado).
Playing his first full season in 2007, when he finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting, Tulo got a taste for winning during Rocktober and served as the team’s leader after Helton retired in 2013. If he could have stayed healthy, it’s hard to imagine what could have been. It will also be a crowded ballot with Ichiro Suzuki and CC Sabathia could be first-balloters and Félix Hernández could be a big vote-getter.
Come 2026, the Rockies could see another former player on the ballot in Matt Kemp. While he’ll be remembered more for his 10-year Dodger career, or even his brief stops in San Diego and Atlanta than his time in Colorado, he was still a valuable veteran to have in Colorado during the challenges of COVID-19-shortened 2020. He hit six homers in 43 games, but was years out from his 2011 campaign when he finished second in NL MVP voting when he had 126 RBI and 39 homers. He may be a longshot for the Hall, but he was a notable star in purple for a while.
By the time 2028 rolls around, it will be Helton’s last year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot. Hopefully, he won’t need that long and the Rockies will be celebrating their second player in Cooperstown sooner than later. BBWAA voters have to submit their ballots by Dec. 31 and the class of 2023 will be announced on Jan. 24.
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Rockies wins since Oct. 1 = 3.
Broncos wins since Oct. 1 = 1.
For the fans who are in the Rockies camp and Broncos Country, it’s tough times. Suffering through 94 losses and seeing stars flee from the organization, Rockies fans have seen better days. But it’s quite possibly worse for Broncos fans, who had reason to believe Denver could turn it around this year with a new quarterback, Rockies 2010 draft pick Russell Wilson, and a new coach. Instead, the Broncos join the Rockies in the last-place-in-the-west category. Looking at the Broncos schedule, it could actually be the Rockies who notch the next win — four months from now. For Rockies fans, as David Hill points out, it could be worse.
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