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Rockies' Top 5 left fielders: Harding's take

@harding_at_mlb
April 28, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. Love this list? Hate it?

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. Love this list? Hate it? If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is our ranking of the top five left fielders in Rockies history. Next week: center field.

1. Matt Holliday, 2004-08, ’18
Key fact: In 2007, Holliday became the sixth player in Major League history to accomplish at least a .335 batting average, 35 home runs, 130 RBIs, 200 hits and 50 doubles. He led the National League in batting (.340), RBIs (137), hits (216) and total bases (386).

With colleges recruiting him as a football quarterback, MLB teams shied away from drafting Matt Holliday out of high school in 1998. But the Rockies knew he would be special and took him in the seventh round. They moved him from third base to the outfield and let his bat play -- and it played so well it almost earned the Rockies a World Series title in 2007.

Rockies' All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS

Holliday was far from a one-year wonder. He represented the Rockies in three All-Star Games. Holliday’s 18.5 wins above replacement, according to baseball-reference.com, is sixth-highest in club history, even though he spent only six seasons in purple pinstripes.

2. Dante Bichette, 1993-99
Key fact: From 1995, when Bichette moved from right field to left to accommodate the Larry Walker signing, through his final Rockies season of 1999, Bichette’s .320 batting average as a left fielder was No. 1 at the position.

Dante Bichette was one of the leading forces for the Blake Street Bombers teams of the 1990s. When he finished second to future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin in the 1995 NL MVP race, he led the league in hits (197 in 139 games of a shortened season), home runs (40), RBIs (128), slugging percentage (.620) and total bases (359). He also led the league with 219 hits in ’98.

3. Jay Payton, 2002-03, ’10
Key fact: Payton’s 4.7 bWAR in 224 games with the Rockies was the highest of his six Major League stops.

Jay Payton avoided the injury bug in 2003 and put up a solid season (.302/.354/.512, 28 home runs, 89 RBIs) for a team that was in the midst of a rebuilding effort. Payton’s numbers in two other abbreviated seasons with the Rockies were solid, as well. As strong as Payton was in ’03 and parts of two other seasons, his presence on this list has a lot to do with the fact we are spreading the wealth. Carlos Gonzalez (456 games in left) and Ellis Burks (264 games) will show up at other outfield positions -- right and center, respectively

4. Corey Dickerson, 2013-15
Key fact: Dickerson’s .312 batting average in 2014 would have put him fourth in the NL, but he fell 24 plate appearances shy of qualifying.

Colorado witnessed the beginning of a solid batting career. Corey Dickerson made an All-Star Game with the Rays in 2017, won an NL Gold Glove with the Pirates in 2018 and has put up some solid numbers throughout. After Dickerson missed much of 2015 with plantar fasciitis, the Rockies dealt him to the Rays and received a key rotation piece -- righty German Márquez.

5. Seth Smith, 2007-11
Key fact: Smith compiled a 3.1 WAR for the Rockies.

Seth Smith is best known for a 3-for-6 pinch-hitting performance in the 2007 postseason, after he had appeared in just seven Major League games. But Smith had three seasons as a Rockies regular (2009-11) and in those produced a solid 109 OPS+, with 47 home runs and 166 RBIs.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.