5 Rockies greats not in the Hall of Fame

January 26th, 2024

DENVER -- The door to the Baseball Hall of Fame is open to the Rockies, thanks to the elections of Larry Walker in 2021 and Todd Helton in 2024. Will another Rockies player stroll through the opening anytime soon?

Walker played 10 of his 17 seasons with the Rockies. Helton spent an entire 17-year career with the club. Getting into the Hall under any circumstance is difficult. But Walker and Helton had to overcome the voters’ difficulty with statistics, which can be outsized at Coors Field and dicey on the road.

Truth is, it’s possible that the next Hall of Famer is still playing. Nolan Arenado spent his first eight distinguished years with the club before being traded to the Cardinals prior to the 2021 season. There will be the same examination of his numbers, but 10 straight Gold Glove Awards to begin his career will ultimately be a weighty evidence in his favor.

However, this Top 5 looks at retired Rockies, with former shortstop Troy Tulowitzki topping the list. Injuries that limited Tulwotizki’s availability during his 10 seasons are expected to stand in his way. The others either already have been or are expected to be judged by Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters to have not done enough for long enough.

Still, the elections of Walker and Helton give us the perfect occasion to relive what made these players special in Purple Pinstripes.

Here are the top five Rockies not in the Hall of Fame:

1) (2006-15)
Tulowitzki will join the ballot for the first time in 2025, and his candidacy deserves true examination. His average Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement (bWAR) of 5.6 for his career is higher than the average for a Hall of Famer at his position (4.9), and his 40.7 WAR over his seven best seasons was close to the average among Hall of Fame shortstops (43.2). Those comparisons should lengthen his time on the ballot. With the Rockies, Tulowitzki impacted the 2007 World Series team as a rookie, made five All-Star Game appearances and won two Gold Gloves before being traded to the Blue Jays in 2015. Tulowitzki’s 39.4 bWAR with the Rox place him fourth in club history behind Helton (61.8), Walker (48.3) and Arenado (40.1). His 13.9 defensive WAR is exceeded only by Arenado’s 15.6.

2) (2004-08, '18)
Holliday did not earn enough votes in 2024 to remain on future BBWAA ballots, but was that a just result? Bill James' "Hall of Fame Monitor," which measures likelihood of selection, declares anything over a score of 100 as a “likely Hall of Famer.” Holliday scored 100. His candidacy looks worthy of re-examination by future committees. The bulk of his career (eight years) came with St. Louis, but Holliday had almost as many All-Star Game appearances with the Rockies (three) as with the Cardinals (four). Colorado fans remain convinced he should have won the National League MVP Award in 2007, when he led the league in batting average (.340), hits (216), doubles (50), RBIs (137) and total bases (386). His career ended fittingly in 2018, with 25 regular-season appearances for the Rockies while helping the club reach the postseason.

3) Carlos González (1993-97)
González, who like Tulowitzki will be on the ballot for the first time in 2025, posted a 23.8 bWAR with the Rockies -- the fifth-best in club history. González arrived via a swap with the Athletics after the 2008 season -- interestingly, with Holliday going to Oakland. González finished 2009 hitting .284 with 13 homers, but it was how he finished -- as an offensive leader late in the season and in the 3-1 NL Division Series loss to the Phillies -- that made him special. “CarGo” won the 2010 NL batting title and finished third in MVP voting that year. He made three All-Star Game appearances and won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers with the team.

4) (1993-97)
“The Big Cat” played more seasons with the Expos (eight) than the Rockies (five). But he’ll be remembered as the Rockies’ first star. After a down year with the Cardinals in 1992, he joined the expansion Rockies in ’93 and won the NL batting title in the first of his two All-Star years in Purple Pinstripes. Galarraga also would lead the league in RBIs twice with the Rockies ('96, '97). With Helton in the wings, however, Galarraga signed with the Braves in '98, with whom he had two more All-Star seasons.

5) (1993-99, 2004, '06)
A gem of the expansion draft, Castilla began his career as the team’s shortstop but flourished after a move to third base in 1994. Castilla batted .309 with 158 home runs from '95-98, and appeared in two All-Star Games during that period. In ’04, the first of his two return cameos with the Rockies, Castilla led the NL with 131 RBIs.