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Who are the Top 5 all-time players from Colorado?

February 3, 2017

It's easy to tell which city your favorite baseball player represents: It's likely your city, and it's emblazoned across his chest 162 times every season. But what about the cities where players learned to turn on a fastball, where they played youth baseball, where they raised families? Where did history's

It's easy to tell which city your favorite baseball player represents: It's likely your city, and it's emblazoned across his chest 162 times every season. But what about the cities where players learned to turn on a fastball, where they played youth baseball, where they raised families? Where did history's best players come from, and which hailed from your neck of the woods?
Across, we profiled all 27 Major League cities through the lens of the talent they've spawned. Players don't need to be born in the city to represent it. Inclusion criteria simply demands the player spent his formative years there, preferably high school, and that he did so within the city limits or in its immediately surrounding areas.
Using career WAR as a guide* -- but also considering other factors, such as the era they played, postseason accomplishments, if they played professionally in that city, and Hall of Fame status -- we'll rank the best five players all-time from each city, list some excellent names that couldn't crack the top five, and sprinkle in some current players too. The mission was to create as complete a historical picture of your city's baseball tradition -- and to as accurately honor its legends -- as possible.
*(Baseball Reference version)
• Who are the Top 5 players from other Major League cities?
Roy Halladay
Born: May 14, 1977
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young Award winner, eight-time All-Star, led league in complete games seven times, wins twice, innings pitched four times, had two 20-win seasons, pitched a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter in 2010, 203-105 record, 3.38 ERA over 16 seasons, 66 WAR
High school: Arvada West (Arvada)
Halladay is one of just a few accomplished big leaguers to be born in Denver, and he attended high school in the city's northwest suburbs. Pitchers are supposed to fear the thin air, but Halladay excelled enough as a two-way star at Arvada West to become a first-round Draft pick in 1995. He took considerable lumps as a professional before emerging as one of the best pitchers in the American League for Toronto in 2002. From there Halladay embarked on a dominant nine-year stretch over which he led all MLB pitchers in wins, complete games and shutouts.
Halladay is one of five pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues, and one of five to throw multiple no-hitters in the same season. He was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Rich "Goose" Gossage
Born: July 5, 1951
Accolades: Nine-time All-Star, three-time saves leader, 124-107 record with a 3.01 ERA over 22 seasons, 310 saves, 1978 World Series champion, 42 WAR, inducted into Hall of Fame in 2008
High school: Wasson (Colorado Springs)
Since few Major Leaguers have come directly from Denver, and the Rockies are as regional a team as any in baseball, we had to expand the range a bit to fill this list. Once we did that just a few dozen miles to Colorado Springs, the talent became much easier to find.
Gossage was born and raised there, about 70 miles from where Coors Field stands. Gossage reveled in the rural Colorado lifestyle -- his father was a gold prospector and coal miner who taught his son to enjoy the outdoors. Gossage lived in Colorado throughout his Hall of Fame career and remains active in Colorado Springs youth sports.
Chase Headley
Born: May 9, 1984
Accolades: 2012 Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award winner, 2012 National League RBI title, .263/.343/.401 with 118 home runs in 10 seasons, career 25 WAR
High school: Fountain-Fort Carson (Fountain)

Headley grew up in the Colorado Springs suburbs as a huge fan of the Rockies and their slugging third baseman at the time, Vinny Castilla.
"It felt like every time I was here, he hit two home runs," Headley told the Colorado Springs Gazette last summer.
Headley turned into a standout high school player and got his first Major League taste at an All-Star Game played at Coors Field during his senior year. He'd go on to play nearly 60 big league games at Coors, mostly during his eight-year tenure with the division-rival Padres.
John Stearns
Born: Aug. 21, 1951
Accolades: Four-time All-Star, .260/.341/.375 with 46 home runs over parts of 11 seasons, No. 2 overall selection in 1973 Draft, career 20 WAR
High school: Thomas Jefferson
The Mets catcher of the late '70s and early '80s is the most productive position player to come from inside Denver's city limits. A premier high school athlete, Stearns stayed close to home for college and became a two-sport star at the University of Colorado. He then embarked on what would be a four-decade career in baseball. Stearns most recently served as the Mariners' third-base coach before stepping down in 2014 due to health issues.
Mark Melancon
Born: March 28, 1985
Accolades: Three-time All-Star, 2015 NL saves leader, '15 Trevor Hoffman Award winner, 21-18 with a 2.60 ERA and 168 saves over eight seasons, MLB-best 131 saves since 2014, signed then-record $62 million contract with the Giants in December 2016, career 10 WAR
High school: Golden (Golden)
Born and raised in the Denver suburbs, Melancon starred in baseball, basketball and football at Golden High while also earning good enough grades to earn a place in the National Honor Society. He left the mountains for the desert, going to the University of Arizona for college before signing with the Yankees in 2006.
In New York, Melancon learned the cutter from Mariano Rivera. It would become his signature pitch and, along with a devastating knuckle curve and pinpoint control, it helped turn him into one of baseball's premier closers. Now with the Giants, Melancon will pitch much more in his childhood home starting this season. He's yet to allow a run in six career appearances at Coors Field.
Honorable mention:David Aardsma, Josh Bard, Brian Fisher, Johnny Frederick, Danny Jackson, Jeff King, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Brad Lidge, Darnell McDonald, Will Ohman, Jimmy Welsh, Stan Williams
Active players:Greg Bird, Ty Blach, Kevin Gausman, Marco Gonzales, Headley, Luke Hochevar, Melancon, Brandon McCarthy, Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Joe Trezza is a reporter for