One of the most interesting franchise histories in sports is that of the Colorado Rockies. Since 1993, when they joined the National League as an expansion franchise, Colorado has been known for its "Blake Street Bombers" attitude and for their horrifying home-road splits.
Playing in the thin air of Coors Field, good hitters such as Vinny Castilla were made to look like Hall of Famers. However, it may just be the thin air of Denver that keeps the black-and-purple out of Cooperstown.
The Case For
In the short history of baseball in Colorado, two players stand out against the background: Todd Helton and Larry Walker. With the exception of young stars Ubaldo Jiminez and Troy Tulowtizki, there have been no other players who could go into the Hall with a Rockies cap on their plaque.
First, we'll look at Helton.
The Tennessee native has been considered by most to be the greatest player in franchise history. As of June 12, his .326 career average ranked sixth among players whose careers began after World War II. Among active players, Helton is second in on-base percentage (.426), fifth in slugging percentage (.560), sixth in intentional walks (175), and tied for fourth in doubles. These are the numbers of a Hall of Famer, especially for a player who has spent his entire career with one team.
Helton is the only player ever to have 35+ doubles in his first ten seasons. He also made five straight All-Star teams and won four straight Silver Sluggers. He captured a Gold Glove on three occasions.
He paces all Rockies hitters in hits, homers, doubles, walks, runs scored, RBIs, on-base percentage, games played, total bases, among other, more obscure categories. If any Rockie should make the Hall, it should be Helton.
However, another former Colorado star could make the Hall before Helton is even eligible: Larry Walker.
Walker has a chance to enter the Hall before Helton for one reason. In 2012, the Hall of Fame class is expected to be extremely weak. First timers include Walker, Bernie Williams, former Rockie Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez, and Ruben Sierra.
Walker, who won seven Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and the 1997 NL MVP, has good career numbers (52nd all-time in home runs) and the writers may look favorably upon him in comparison to his class. If Walker is going to get in, 2012 is the year.
The Case Against
The reason to keep Rockies players out of Cooperstown is obvious: They played most of their games at Coors Field.
The career splits can't lie:
Helton at Home: 200 HR, .358/.455/.633
Helton on the Road: 126 HR, .294/.395/.486
Those splits are among the harshest ever. For Helton to make the Hall of Fame, someone's going to have to be convinced that it's the overall body of work that counts. For those who make a valid point that if Helton had Cooperstown ability, he would hit like it everywhere, the home/road splits.
The biggest reason, though, that could prevent
With possible holdovers such as Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Mark McGwire, John Franco, and Rafael Palmeiro stealing the spotlight, it may be harder for Walker to get in. But, if he doesn't get in in 2012, he probably never will.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Kenny Lofton, Franco, Biggio, Mesa, Wells, Hernandez, and Sosa headline the class of 2013. In 2014, we have Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Kenny Rogers, Moises Alou, Mike Mussina, and Hideo Nomo. With those guys stealing the spotlight for what looks like several years, I see Walker having a very hard time making it in, and if Helton's path is blocked, he could have a hard time getting in as well.
The Final Verdict
Chance of Todd Helton Making the Hall of Fame: 75%
Chance of Larry Walker Making the Hall of Fame: 35%
But hey, that's my opinion. Put yours in the comments below!
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