Two names are easy, another is a rising star. Who's the fourth?
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
This is the latest in the series naming the greatest individuals in the history of each franchise — or each franchise's own Mt. Rushmore. The question was posed earlier this season whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore. That certainly piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.
Colorado Rockies Mt. Rushmore
For a franchise that began in 1993, there has been very little to celebrate. With no division titles, the Rockies have made three postseason appearances as the National League wild card team, and won two playoff series, both in 2007 before getting swept in the World Series. Amazingly, there have been just five managers and virtually only two first basemen in team history. Beyond Todd Helton and Larry Walker, there is plenty to argue about.
There is no doubt that Helton is Mr. Rockie. He may be challenged over the next 10 years by Troy Tulowitzki, but for now there is no argument. He is the franchise leader in games, hits, runs, homers, RBIs, total bases and more. The career .323 hitter has more than 2,300 hits and 1,200 walks. He has topped 1,300 in both runs and RBIs. He owns three Gold Gloves to boot. Helton, who once started at quarterback at the University of Tennessee (ahead of Peyton Manning), is inching ever so close to Hall of Fame status.
Ranking second to Helton in all those categories is Walker. The former rightfielder leads the franchise in average and OPS. Walker signed as a free agent prior to the 1995 season and put together nine-plus outstanding seasons in Denver, including an MVP season in 1997. As a member of the Rockies, Walker won three batting titles, a home run crown and five Gold Gloves in addition to his MVP award.
It’s way too early — or so it seems — to put Tulowitzki on Mt. Rushmore. But, he has made five consecutive Opening Day starts. Only Helton has more and only Andres Galarraga, Vinny Castilla and Brad Hawpe have as many. He’s creeping up the all-time lists and with a contract that ostensibly makes him a lifetime Rockie, Tulo is poised to become the most beloved of all. He certainly earns brownie points here by signing a long-term deal and showing loyalty to the franchise.
So maybe you didn’t expect to see a pitcher on the Rockies’ mountain. Chances are that he’ll be usurped by Carlos Gonzalez in a few years. But for now, we like the franchise leader with 74 wins. He’s the only Colorado pitcher to start more than 200 games and log more than 1,300 innings.
Close Calls Clint Hurdle managed the team to its only appearance in the World Series.
In the days before the humidor, hitters like Vinny Castilla, Dante Bichette and Andres Galarraga posted huge numbers in the thin air of the Mile High City.
Matt Holliday’s career in Colorado was brief, but he won a batting title and will always be remembered for scoring the winning run in the 13th inning of the one-game playoff that put the Rockies into the playoffs in 2007 (even if he never really touched the plate).
Ubaldo Jimenez gets a nod for proving pitchers could be dominant in Colorado.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com