Two names are easy, another is a rising star. Who's the fourth?
Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. 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 just 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 six managers and virtually only three 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—if Tulo remains with the team—but for now there is no argument. He is the franchise leader in games, hits, runs, homers, RBIs, total bases and more. The career .316 hitter has more than 2,500 hits and 1,300 walks. He has topped 1,400 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), will receive serious Hall of Fame consideration in 2019.
Ranking second to Helton in all those categories is Walker. The former right fielder 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 nine consecutive Opening Day starts. Only Helton (16) and Walker (8) have more more Opening Day starts for the Rockies. He’s creeping up the all-time lists, and 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, although that player-club relationship seems to be a bit strained now. His spotty injury history may prevent him from overtaking the Toddfather.
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.
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.
The aforementioned Carlos Gonzalez was on pace to join the group a few years ago, but injuries have dramatically slowed his production.
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).
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: