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Rockies' Top 5 right fielders: Harding's take

@harding_at_mlb
May 12, 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 are the top five right fielders in Rockies history.

1. Larry Walker, 1995-2004
Key fact: Not only is Walker the first person who played in a game for the Rockies to make the Hall of Fame, but he’s the first Canadian position player.

Larry Walker spent time in center and right in his first two seasons with the Rockies before making the corner his home. We can recite the numbers and go over the old arguments of why his Hall of Fame selection took so long. But we’re not here to talk about that part of the past. Besides, there are websites for that.

• Rockies All-Time Around the Horn Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF

Walker in right was the proper mixture of science and art -- the way he could fool a hitter into thinking he had a simple fly ball, then play the ball off the wall and cost the opponent extra bases, the way he chased down balls in the gap or down the line while looking at the runners and not the ball, the way he dared runners to try to take 90 feet and then sent them back to the dugout. Add to that his offensive impact.

You can look up the numbers. But click on a video and see assuredness of the left-handed swing and the thunderous yet smooth form on the bases and just imagine.

2. Carlos González, 2009-18
Key fact: Walker and González are the only players in Rockies history who rank in the franchise’s top five in doubles, triples and home runs.

Before making right field his home in 2015, Carlos González excelled at all three outfield positions. In all, he played 640 games in right, 456 in left and 131 in center. While González won one Gold Glove as an overall outfielder and two in left, he continued as a top defender and had standout offensive numbers in his four years strictly in right.

3. Brad Hawpe, 2004-10
Key fact: Hawpe’s 745 games in right field are exceeded only by Walker’s 1,018 in Rockies history.

Brad Hawpe was a first baseman/outfielder at LSU and an 11th-round Draft pick in 2000 who needed to dedicate himself to right field because first baseman Todd Helton wasn’t going anywhere. And while he didn’t receive acclaim defensively, his 49 assists from right are second-most in club history behind Walker’s 90. During his prime, Hawpe was an offensive force: .288 with 99 home runs, 132 doubles and 371 RBIs from 2006-09, with an All-Star Game trip in ’09.

4. Michael Cuddyer, 2012-14
Key fact: Cuddyer batted .307 over 280 games with the Rockies.

Michael Cuddyer was part of a lively, if disjointed, era of Rockies baseball. Cuddyer, who won the NL batting title in 2013, was part of a group of offensive veterans that included González, Helton, Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler. However, the pitching was nowhere near competitive. Cuddyer not only hit .331 in 2013 but managed .332 during an injury-shortened 2014 season (49 games).

5. Ryan Spilborghs, 2005-11
Key fact: Spilborghs was a solid overall contact hitter (.272/.345/.423) who achieved the difficult feat of elevating production as a pinch-hitter (.305/.411/.425).

There are two problems with going position by position: Regulars such as Walker, González, Dante Bichette, Ellis Burks and Seth Smith played enough in two or three of the outfield spots to be considered top five, and multi-positional guys who weren’t always regulars can get lost. Ryan Spilborghs was in the latter category, but he earned enough trust from his managers to play 186 games in right, 122 in center and 187 in left and made 338 starts in seven seasons. His .981 fielding percentage was also solid for a guy not pinned to one position.

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.