The Mount Rushmore of the Colorado Rockies

Ellis Burks, once a great Rockie, in a photo from spring 2012 when he was coaching the Reds / Presswire

Here are the Colorado Rockies. The way I see it, this is a discussion of just the final two faces on their Mount Rushmore as Todd Helton and Larry Walker clearly get the top two spots. Let’s look a little more at who gets #3 and #4.

Here are the batters by career WAR with Colorado:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Todd Helton 58.7 1997 2012
2 Larry Walker 46.4 1995 2004
3 Troy Tulowitzki 23.5 2006 2012
4 Matt Holliday 17.5 2004 2008
5 Vinny Castilla 15.8 1993 2006
6 Andres Galarraga 13.4 1993 1997
7 Carlos Gonzalez 11.8 2009 2012
8 Ellis Burks 11.1 1994 1998
9 Eric Young 8.8 1993 1997
10 Clint Barmes 8.1 2003 2010
11 Chris Iannetta 7.6 2006 2011
12 Jeff Cirillo 7.4 2000 2001
13 Dexter Fowler 4.6 2008 2012
14 Jay Payton 4.4 2002 2010
15 Garrett Atkins 4.3 2003 2009
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/16/2012.

As for pitchers, take a look, but hold your nose:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Ubaldo Jimenez 17.8 2006 2011
2 Aaron Cook 15.4 2002 2011
3 Steve Reed 11.4 1993 2004
4 Pedro Astacio 9.9 1997 2001
5 Jason Jennings 9.4 2001 2006
6 Brian Fuentes 9.3 2002 2008
7 Jeff Francis 8.5 2004 2010
8 Armando Reynoso 7.9 1993 1996
9 John Thomson 7.2 1997 2002
10 Kevin Ritz 6.7 1994 1998
11 Curt Leskanic 6.3 1993 1999
12 Bruce Ruffin 6.3 1993 1997
13 Jhoulys Chacin 6.0 2009 2012
14 Jorge De La Rosa 5.8 2008 2011
15 Jerry Dipoto 5.5 1997 2000
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/16/2012.

Ubaldo Jimenez is an interesting case. He was lights out for a while there, and as he started to fade the Rockies traded him off. If we isolate his time with the Rockies, it’s pretty clear that he’s the top starter they’ve ever had.

As for the 2007 Rockies who made the World Series, it’s hard to ignore Matt Holliday, who was the leader of that team in both the regular season and post-season.

Not much else to say…let’s get right to the poll.

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38 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the Colorado Rockies"

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Dalton M

As much as I’d love to put in Jeff Francis for how good he became as my #2 starter in MVP Baseball 2005, I’m going to have to hold back and make my ballot: Helton/Walker/Tulo/Castilla


As overrated as he was, I think Dante Bichette should be on this poll.

John B
The omission some Rockies fans will definitely point out is Dante Bichette, who is probably the best reason in the world why blindly looking at triple crown statistics is a stupid idea. In 7 years as a Rockie, he averaged .316/32/132 per 162 games and was worth 3.1 WAR (total!), owing largely to atrocious defense and a lack of patience at the plate (plus, he was playing at Coor’s Field in the 1990’s, so he only once had an OPS+ above 120). In 1995, Bichette led the league in HR, RBI, SLG, hits, and total bases to finish second in… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar

Vinny Castilla managed some amazing dichotomic futility, as well.
1999 – 33 HR, 102 RBI, 84 ops+


Thank you, John B, for pointing out Dante’s extreme overratedness. And the WAR numbers manage to illustrate this in a relative way, but i still don’t see — despite my contempt for his skills — how you can tell me that an “Average Replacement” player would have been worth 2.6 more wins in 1999.

Anyway, here’s a vote for the 3rd and 4th spots going to The Big Cat Galarraga and Senor Castilla: two guys who were huge faces of the early franchise for several years.

Tulo in a couple years probably, but not quite yet.

Luis Gomez

Completely agree to include Galarraga and Castilla.

This may not be news, but I find kind of cool to have the All Time Homerun hitters from three different countries (Canada, Venezuela and Mexico)

Oh, and I also found a bit disrespectful to name Vinny that way in the poll. Wether you like it or not, he was one of the original Rockies, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be able to convert from a light hitting shortstop to a Silver Slugger third baseman, not just a hitter’s park.


Bichette might not be a Mt. Rushmore candidate, but he sure is a poster boy – for Coors Field in the 1990s. And also for the kinks that need to be worked out of WAR. There’s no way a replacement player puts up those kind of offensive numbers, Coors or no Coors. Sure he was horrendous defensively, but those numbers at-bat still mean something.


To me that’s much less of a knock on Bichette than it is a flat out indictment of the crimes committed by WAR.

Voomo Zanzibar

Seems premature to put a 27 year old on a “Mt Rushmore,” but GG, 30-HR, face-of-the-franchise Shortstops don’t come along very often.


For #4, I’d say The Big Cat.
He was an original Rockie, and batted .370 that first year (yes, .402 at altitude).

And though he is 10th in team history in PA, he is 5th in all those important triple crown categories :0


Those were my 4 as well but I considered writing in Bichette because he is kind of the poster child for the inflated offensive numbers during his time with the team. I have a really hard time imagining that any pitcher spending most of his career in Colorado will ever make the Hall of Fame.


I don’t think there’s even a debate. Helton, Walker, Tulo, Big Cat, and I barely even consider anybody else.

Andy – are you going to be posting “results” of the polls somewhere?


He may be far from the team’s Mount Rushmore, but speaking of the Rockies, Jamie Moyer just became the oldest player in major league history to get an RBI, driving in 2 as he hustled to beat the throw to 1st for a single!

Isn’t it great what can happen when you let the pitchers hit?

Evil Squirrel
How about a ceremonial Mount Rushmore featuring the Blake Street Bombers (Walker, Bichette, Galarraga, and Castilla)? They were THE face of the franchise in its formative years, and when the Rockies busted that group up to try overpaying pitchers to come to Coors Field in the late 90’s, they fell from respectability to irrelevance for a long time. I was fortunate enough to be in Denver for a couple classic BSB games in 1996 and 97…. win or lose, they were always entertaining and packed the stadium. Not paying tribute to that era of Rockies history does the franchise an… Read more »

Is there no place to put a vote in for the Humidor?

Big Daddy V

It’s Pedro Astacio, and there’s no other choice. He’s the only pitcher in history with a season of 5+ ERA and 5+ WAR.

Death to the humidor! Long live dingers!


Helton, Walker, Bichette and Castilla. WAR doesn’t prove Bichette’s disutility; Bichette proves WAR’s disutility. Let the eggs fly.

Lawrence Azrin

As much as I believe Bichette is quite overrated, I still am extremely suspicious of several of his huge negative defensive WAR ratings {-34, -18; -77 for 7 Rockies years}.

I agree with Shping’s comment in #6 about his 1999 season; again, his Triple Crown stats make him look a lot more valuable than he really was, but there’s no way he is 2.6 wins _worse_ than his (theoretical) AAA replacement. There’s gotta be a middle ground here.

John Autin
I have no independent information on Bichette’s defensive ability, but I wanted to make one small point: In an outfield the size of Coors, the value of outfield defense is magnified, both positive and negative. I would also suggest applying a simple smell test to Bichette’s huge negative dWAR for 1999: — Was he old? Yes, 35. — Was he slow? Yes, based on (a) 6 for 12 in steals, (b) 2 triples while playing in a high-triples park, (c) 34% rate of extra bases taken as a baserunner (NL average was 43%). — Did he make a lot of… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin

John A,

OK, you convinced me… that it may be _possible_ that Bichette was -34 runs on defense. It still seems too high a number.


I agree with JA’s sentiments about Coors Field being so cavernous that it can lead to weird dWAR numbers, especially low ones. I don’t think Bichette would have put up dWAR numbers so awful had he played, for example, in short-porch Wrigley Field. Look at the Cubs’ LF this year, 36-year-old Alfonso Soriano. According to UZR and Fangraphs, he’s the sixth best defensive player in baseball this year!

There was a reason that Bichette wound up playing for the Rockies and not some of the teams that had him before. He was mostly around an average major league hitter- not a great recommendation for a corner outfielder but there have been many players like that that stay with teams for years. But he was always a horsesh!t outfielder and none of those teams felt that his bat was enough to offset that. Colorado not only inflated his offensive numbers, it also magnified his very real defensive shortcomings. I will admit however that those games could be a whole… Read more »

Helton, Walker, Holliday and Tulo for me.


Matched the Consensus of Helton, Walker, Tulo, Holliday.

Galarraga was a close 5th (w/ Holiday), But Matt’s 2007 was outstanding in the Rockies’ only WS appearance. Also they already had 1995 (Walker) and 1B (Helton) representation in the Big 3.

Dante Bichette was a close 6th as a representative of the pre-Humidor days in Mile High/Coor’s field Colorado.

Insert Name Here

I’m going with Helton, Walker, Tulo, and (get ready to hate on me) Ubaldo Jimenez. Yes, really.

Actually, I made this concept into a Sporcle quiz (if you haven’t heard of Sporcle, you really should check it out, it’s a great website with a strong community):

My first attempt was a sad failure, as one commenter would point out a problem with my (WAR-based) methodology:

But I fixed the problem for the 2nd version:

WARNING: I myself strongly disagree with some of the selections. But Sporclers don’t like opinionated quizzes, it wastes the site’s bandwidth.


Egad, insert, who made the lists of Mt. Rushmores on that second quiz? Does the site generate them? For the Braves they have Kid Nichols, two more 19th century pitchers, and Eddie Mathews. That’s scary bad.

Insert Name Here

Ummm… that’s not Eddie Mathews, it’s Hank Aaron.


My fault, insert, I thought it said “3rd baseman/1st baseman”.

e pluribus munu
A very interesting set of names, INH. It never would have occurred to me to set up the methodology(/ies) you used, and your lists yield some pretty weird outcomes, but it seems to me that’s a lot of the interest. How could I have overlooked the greatness of Billy Rhines all these years?(It’s a failing I could not have regretted yesterday, never having heard of him before he took monumental form today.) If we were all to design Sporcle Rushmores, each using an independent statistical model, we’d probably get closer to triangulating a consensus, and also get to know many… Read more »

“(My design would be fudged to guarantee Karl Spooner a second bust.)”

If their jokes would make me laugh as loud as that did, I could make a good living getting comedians to pay me to come and watch their shows to get the crowds rolling…

Well played.