Draft Blasts

The MLB Draft is just one day away. This draft doesn’t garner nearly enough attention as does the drafts of both the NFL and NBA. It does, however, give teams a chance to peg their future on a stud coming out of college or high school. The Rockies have nailed many picks in their organization’s history. With Colorado selecting No. 8, there should be a surplus of talent to choose from.

This has me thinking, though. Who have been three of the best picks to ever play at Coors Field? Let’s take a gander at who I believe are the three best to ever be picked up by the Rockies in the draft (present team excluded).

Aaron Cook

Say all you want about his career 4.60 ERA, this guy could win games. The 1997 second-round pick of the Rockies notched 72 wins in his 10 seasons in Colorado. He did this all without averaging more than four strikeouts per nine innings. How is this possible? Cook had a sinker that was regarded as one of the best in the game during that stretch. He began his career with just a fastball and some off-speed selections, but added a dimension to that fastball by getting it to sink – and sink a lot. Cook induced 2,648 ground balls that led to outs with the Rockies.

Keeping the ball down is important for a pitcher, especially at Coors Field. Cook had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 2.45 throughout his career. This shows that he kept the ball in the park, even if he wasn’t striking a lot of guys out.

Aaron Cook finished his career with the Rockies as the all-time leader in wins with 72. (Creative Commons)

Aaron Cook finished his career with the Rockies as the all-time leader in wins with 72. (Creative Commons)

Though Cook went on to become an All-Star and pitch in the World Series, what may have been his greatest feat was pitching two complete games on fewer than 80 pitches. In 2008, Cook hurled a complete-game shutout on just 79 pitches against the Padres (Side note: see where Troy Tulowitzki was batting?!). One year earlier, the right hander from Hamilton, Ohio threw a complete game against the Padres on only 74 pitches. Those two performances were the lowest pitch count total of a complete game since 1990.

Matt Holliday

A year after Cook was selected, the Rockies took a kid out of Stillwater, Okla. in the seventh round named Matt Holliday. Little did they know, Holliday would become an All-Star and Silver Slugger three times. The 2007 runner-up in NL MVP voting smacked 128 home runs and 483 RBI during his tenure with the Rockies.

Holliday enjoyed one of the best seasons in Rockies history in 2007. The outfielder led the league in hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and batting average (.340). His 2007 season was best exemplified by this game-winning slide against the Padres to get to the playoffs. Holliday finished second in MVP voting, despite have better numbers than the eventual winner, Jimmy Rollins.

Holliday was traded after the 2008 season to the Oakland Athletics for Carlos Gonzalez, Houston Street and Greg Smith. He now mans the left-field corner for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Todd Helton

Helton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 1995 draft, went on to have a pretty decent career, I guess. Helton finished his 17-year career as one of the greatest hitters to ever put on a Rockies uniform. He ranks first in Rockies history in hits (2,519), doubles (592), home runs (369) and RBI (1,406). The “Toddfather” also was no stranger to acceptance speeches as he accumulated five All-Star appearances, four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. Helton will be the first player to have his No. 17 retired on Aug. 17 to celebrate his illustrious 17-year career.

Todd Helton will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Rockies uniform. (Creative Commons)

Todd Helton will go down as one of the best players to ever put on a Rockies uniform. (Creative Commons)

Added on to his success on the field, Helton has been named “Tennessean of the Year” and been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He still awaits the grandest of awards, though – Cooperstown. If it were up to only Rockies fans, he would have a bust and a section dedicated to just himself.

With the eighth selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, might we see somebody of this caliber join the organization? One can only hope.



Helton inducted into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

Just when you thought the former Rockies first baseman was done receiving awards, Todd Helton has added another honor to his illustrious career.

Fresh off of being named “Tennessean of the Year,” the 17-year pro – all with the Rockies – was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame late Thursday night.

Todd Helton was the face of the Rockies organization during his 17-year career. (Creative Commons)

Todd Helton was the face of the Rockies organization during his 17-year career. (Creative Commons)

“I’m very honored that it did happen, especially so quickly after I retired,” Helton said in an interview with WBIR – a CBS affiliate in Knoxville, Tenn.

In order to be considered for induction, a candidate must have displayed characteristics of courage, endurance, leadership, power, sacrifice and sportsmanship for their respective Colorado organization.

The five-time All-Star had a career batting average of .316, 592 doubles, 369 home runs and a career WAR (wins above replacement) of 61.5. He collected three Gold Gloves and was named a Silver Slugger four times.

It was quite a sight when Helton didn’t take the field in Colorado’s Opening Day lineup. This was the first time since 1997 that somebody other than Helton manned the bag.

From WBIR:

“It was strange not to be there. But, I prepared myself for it and made sure I had other things to do. I’ve done it for the last 17 years. It was what I do; what I love.”

He has enjoyed his well-earned retirement, however.

When asked by Susie Wargin of WBIR, Helton said, “It’s been relaxing, but busy. I found out that I have a lot of things that I like to do, along with being with family and friends. It’s been a lot of fun!”

With one Hall of Fame in the books, that leaves the question: How about Cooperstown?

If it were up to us Rockies fans, there would be no doubt. What Helton has meant to the organization and how he has handled himself in the community would make him a first-ballot choice.

But if it is the numbers you need, then let’s peruse them, shall we?

7 – Only seven others players, besides Helton, own a .316 batting average, .414 on-base percentage and .539 slugging percentage. The others? Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. All of them, except for current Los Angeles Angel Pujols, are in the Hall of Fame.

8 – His career batting average of .316 is the eighth-highest for any player since 1946 (minimum 5,000 at-bats).

2 – Helton is the only player not named Stan Musial in Major League history to have 2,500 doubles, 550 doubles, 350 home runs and a batting average over .315.

175 – In a Hall of Fame Monitor, created by Bill James, Helton scored 175 points. The monitor gives points by year-to-year achievements in statistical and award categories. If you score 100, you are normally in the discussion for induction. 130 almost certainly guarantees you Hall of Fame status.

How do you like them apples?

Between those numbers and his unprecedented character, Helton should find himself in Cooperstown in the coming years.