DENVER -- Larry Walker was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2020, and Rockies fans are crossing their fingers that Todd Helton will join him in the coming years. It stands to reason that this pair dominates the list of best offensive seasons in Rockies history. Of the top 10 seasons in Rockies history by OPS, Walker and Helton own nine of them.
Here are the franchise’s top five seasons by position players:
1. Larry Walker, 1997
Walker arrived in 1995 and helped lead the Rockies to their first postseason appearance, but ’96 was rough. He missed 2 1 /2 months with a broken left collarbone and then separated his right shoulder during an offseason fishing trip. But he arrived for ’97 healthy and turned in the only National League Most Valuable Player season in club history.
Walker batted .366 and led the league in home runs (49), on-base percentage (.452), slugging percentage (.720), OPS (1.172) and total bases (409). And he slammed the door on the argument that his accomplishments were artificial because of Coors Field. On the road, he outpaced his performance at Coors in home runs (29-20), slugging percentage (.733-.709) and OPS (1.176-1.169).
And he took home a Gold Glove.
2. Todd Helton, 2000
Helton made his first All-Star Game trip and then flirted with history. He carried a .398 batting average as late as Aug. 22 before finishing the year at an MLB-leading .372. He also led the Majors in doubles (59), RBIs (147), slugging (.698), OPS (1.162) and total bases (405). He led the NL in hits (216) and on-base percentage (.463). With his 1.242 OPS at home and 1.074 on the road, there was little anyone could do to poke holes.
The finish was significant. The Rockies’ previous two seasons were below .500, and the they went into the final game of 2000 -- at then-dominant Atlanta – with a 81-80 record. The Braves led, 5-4, in the top of the ninth, and Helton and the Rockies were down to their last strike. All Helton did was blast a 99 mph fastball from John Rocker for a three-run homer that sparked a 10-5 win. It was the Rockies’ last winning season until their 2007 trip to the World Series.
3. Larry Walker, 1999
As the Rockies struggled to 72-90, Walker solidified himself as one of the NL’s best players by taking all the percentage titles -- .379 batting average for his second straight league crown, .458 OBP, .710 slugging and 1.168 OPS. He also won his third straight Gold Glove -- the fifth of the seven he earned in his career.
4. Todd Helton, 2001
In the second of his five straight All-Star seasons, Helton’s performance was almost as dominant as his 2000 -- .336 with a career-high 49 home runs and 146 RBIs. After years of building his reputation as a top defender – his ability to charge bunts and slow rollers and throw for outs was unrivaled – Helton received the first of his three NL Gold Glove Awards.
5. Larry Walker, 2001
The Rockies struggled to a 73-89 finish, but Helton and Walker put on a show. Walker led the Majors with a .350 batting average, hit 37 home runs, drove in 123 runs and won a Gold Glove.