The 9 greatest players in Colorado Rockies history
While José Reyes briefly was the successor to Troy Tulowitzki (more on him in a minute) for the Colorado Rockies, Trevor Story was faced with the unenviable task of being the heir apparent to the greatest shortstop in franchise history.
To his credit, Story was unphased by the task.
Story took over as the full-time starting shortstop in 2016, five years after the Rockies had selected him in the first round of the MLB Draft out of Irving High School in Texas. Despite being limited to just 97 games, Story finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2016, and never gave the starting shortstop job back.
In six seasons with the Rockies, Story homered 158 times, drove in 450 runs and posted an .863 OPS. Story won two Silver Slugger Awards as a Rockie, and posted a 21.6 fWAR between 2016 and 2021, the eighth best mark among all shortstops and 26th among position players over the period.
Though he never won a Gold Glove Award as a Rockie, Story was an excellent defender. Between 2016 and 2021, Story accumulated 69 defensive runs saved, the sixth best mark among all qualified fielders.
At the time of publication, Story is a free agent. And while the door isn't entirely closed on a return to Colorado, the most likely scenario probably is that he plays elsewhere starting in 2022.
As is, Story is one of the better players to ever suit up for the Rockies franchise, which began play in 1993. However, he'll need to re-sign with the Rockies and continue putting up more great seasons to ever be an inner-circle member of the franchise.
With Story, Dante Bichette and Aaron Cook among those on the outside looking in, here are the nine greatest players in Rockies history:
9. Ubaldo Jiménez (2006-2011)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2010 - 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA, 161 ERA+, 3.10 FIP, 1.155 WHIP, 214 strikeouts, four complete games and a 6.0 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: 56-45 with a 3.66 ERA, 128 ERA+, 3.58 FIP, 1.284 WHIP, 773 strikeouts, eight complete games and 18.6 fWAR
Coors Field is beautiful, but it's one of the least pitcher-friendly environments in baseball history. So the Rockies have struggled to consistently develop and/or attract pitching talent. Perhaps the closest they've come to a legitimate ace is with Jiménez, who managed to finish third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2010, behind Hall of Famer Roy Halladay and long-time St. Louis Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright. Among anyone to ever pitch for the Rockies, Jiménez is the all-time leader in fWAR (18.6), ERA (3.66) and FIP (3.58).
8. Vinny Castilla (1993-1999; 2004; 2006)
Best Season as a Rockie: 1998 - .319/.362/.589 with 46 home runs, 144 RBIs, 40 walks, .951 OPS, 127 OPS+ and a 4.5 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .294/.340/.530 with 239 home runs, 745 RBIs, 273 walks, 1,206 hits, .870 OPS, 106 OPS+ and a 15.2 fWAR
Across three stints with the Rockies, Castilla made two All-Star teams and won the Silver Slugger Award three times. Between 1995 and 1999, Castilla hit 191 home runs, which is more than Barry Bonds and Jim Thome -- two of the greatest power hitters in MLB history -- did over that same period. The 239 home runs that Castilla hit as a Rockie are third in franchise history.
7. Carlos González (2009-2018)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2010 - .336/.376/.598 with 34 home runs, 117 RBIs, 40 walks, .974 OPS, 143 OPS+ and a 5.7 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .290/.349/.516 with 227 home runs, 749 RBIs, 417 walks, 1,330 hits, .865 OPS, 116 OPS+ and 25.2 fWAR
Affectionally referred to as "CarGo," González is one of the most complete players in the brief history of the Rockies. He won the National League batting title in 2010, which propelled him to a third place finish in MVP voting in the senior circuit, behind only Joey Votto and Albert Pujols. Across a decade spent with the Rockies, González was a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time Gold Glove Award winner and three-time All-Star.
6. Matt Holliday (2004-2008; 2018)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2007 - .340/.405/.607 with 36 home runs, 137 RBIs, 63 walks, 1.012 OPS, 151 OPS+ and a 6.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .319/.387/.550 with 130 home runs, 486 RBIs, 263 walks, 863 hits, .936 OPS, 131 OPS+ and 20.3 fWAR
A seventh-round pick in the 1998 MLB Draft, Holliday's first stint with the Rockies only lasted five years. However, he solidified his place as one of the franchise's most impactful bats during that period. Holliday made three All-Star teams as a Rockie, and finished runner-up to Jimmy Rollins in National League MVP voting in 2007, an award some still believe he should have won. The Rockies won a staggering 21 of their final 29 games in 2007, including a one-game playoff win to capture the NL Wild Card where Holliday *technically* scored the winning run. Holliday homered five times and drove in 10 runs in the 2007 playoffs, helping the Rockies to win their first National League pennant.
5. Charlie Blackmon (2011-Present)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2017 - .331/.399/.601 with 37 home runs, 104 RBIs, 65 walks, .1000 OPS, 141 OPS+ and a 6.6 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .300/.359/.495 with 191 home runs, 631 RBIs, 371 walks, 1,450 hits, .854 OPS, 114 OPS+ and a 23.5 fWAR (numbers current as of January 2022)
One of the longest-tenured players in franchise history, Blackmon is currently preparing for his 12th season with the Rockies. Already, he's become a franchise great, making four All-Star teams and winning the 2017 National League batting title. Blackmon is second in franchise history in hits, and the crowd singing along to "Your Love" by the Outfield as he walks up to home plate is one of the coolest parts about visiting Coors Field.
4. Troy Tulowitzki (2006-2015)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2009 - .297/.377/.552 with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, 73 walks, .930 OPS, 131 OPS+ and a 5.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .299/.371/.513 with 188 home runs, 657 RBIs, 435 walks, 1,165 hits, .885 OPS, 123 OPS+ and 34.3 fWAR
Injuries likely prevented Tulowitzki from being a Hall of Famer, but he's still one of the greatest players in Rockies history. In 2007 -- the same year that he would help the Rockies to reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history -- he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting, behind Ryan Braun. In parts of 10 seasons with the Rockies, "Tulo" would go on to make five All-Star Game appearances, while winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards twice.
3. Nolan Arenado (2013-2020)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2019 - .315/.379/.583 with 41 home runs, 118 RBIs, 62 walks, .962 OPS, 131 OPS+ and a 6.1 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .293/.349/.541 with 235 home runs, 760 RBIs, 362 walks, 1,206 hits, .890 OPS, 121 OPS+ and 32.5 fWAR
One of the greatest defensive players in MLB history, Arenado won a Gold Glove Award in all eight of the seasons that he spent with the Rockies, capturing the Platinum Glove Award as the National League's top fielder on five occasions. Unsurprisingly, Arenado is also the franchise's all-time leader in defensive WAR, at 15.6. But while his glove was the main attraction, Arenado was one of the most complete players in baseball during his time in Colorado, as he led the NL in home runs three times (2015, 2016 & 2018) and RBIs twice (2015 & 2016). Arenado is very much on a Hall of Fame trajectory in his career, and if he does indeed end up with a plaque at Cooperstown, it's likely to include him donning a Rockies cap.
2. Larry Walker (1995-2004)
Best Season as a Rockie: 1997 - .366/.452/.720 with 49 home runs, 130 RBIs, 78 walks, 1.172 OPS, 178 OPS+ and a 9.1 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .334/.426/.618 with 258 home runs, 848 RBIs, 584 walks, 1,361 hits, 1.044 OPS, 147 OPS+ and 44.0 fWAR
Still one of the most underrated stars that the sport has ever seen, Walker was picked up by the Rockies after the Montreal Expos non-tendered him in a cost cutting move after the strike-shortened 1994 season. One of the most short-sighted decisions in MLB history worked in the favor of the Rockies, as Walker would spend the next nine-and-a-half seasons in Colorado. As a Rockie, Walker made four All-Star teams, won five Gold Glove Awards and was voted the 1997 National League MVP. The Canadian-born right fielder was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020, and became the first player to ever sport a Rockies cap on his Cooperstown plaque. The Rockies retired Walker's No. 33 in September of 2021.
1. Todd Helton (1997-2013)
Best Season as a Rockie: 2000 - .372/.463/.698 with 42 home runs, 147 RBIs, 103 walks, 1.162 OPS, 163 OPS+ and an 8.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Rockie: .316/.414/.539 with 369 home runs, 1,406 RBIs, 1,335 walks, 2,519 hits, .953 OPS, 133 OPS+ and a 54.9 fWAR
The greatest player in franchise history, Helton spent his entire career with the Rockies and is the franchise's all-time leader in fWAR (54.9), offensive WAR (54.5), hits (2,519), singles (1,521), doubles (592), home runs (369), extra-base hits (998), RBIs (1,406), runs scored (1,401) and total bases (4,292). The Rockies retired Helton's No. 17 in August of 2014, the first retired number in franchise history. He appears to be trending towards joining Walker, his long-time teammate, in Cooperstown in the near future.