Sunday, May 24, 2015

Why Don't the Colorado Rockies Wear That Number Anymore?

Every organization in the league has their own legends.  Some legends tower over the history of the game.  Some tower over a certain portion of the history.  Some define an organization and are the first thought anyone has when the team is mentioned.

Each team finds a way to honor their legends, usually with the retirement of the player's number.  For the fans of that team it is easy to sit in the stadium seats, look out on the display of retired numbers and feel pride in the part that number represents to their history.  Unfortunately, fans of the visiting team stopping  by to see a game may not know the meaning of those numbers.

So during this series we will explore what the retired numbers for each team mean and why they were retired.

So far in this series of articles we have reviewed the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.  This week we will look at the Colorado Rockies.

Todd Helton joined the Rockies in 1997 for 35 games.  The following year he was a Rookie of the Year candidate, finishing second to Kerry Wood.  In his 17 years (how's that for irony) in Colorado Helton would make  five All Star appearances, receive MVP votes 6 times, win four Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Glove awards.  Helton was often near the top of the league in batting average and in 2000 Helton threatened to hit .400.  Helton retired after the 2013 season.  As an all time Rockies player Helton ranks high in many categories: WAR (1st), Offensive WAR (1st), Average (3rd), OBP (2nd), slugging % (7th), OBP (3rd), Games (1st), At Bats (1st), Plate Appearances (1st), Runs (1st), Hits (1st), Total Bases (1st), Doubles (1st), Triples (4th), Home Runs (1st), RBI (1st), Walks (1st), Strikeouts (1st), Singles (1st), Extra Base Hits (1st), Times on Base (1st),Hit By Pitch (3rd), Sac Fly (1st) and Intentional Walks (1st).  Only one other player in Rockies history wore the #17.  Pitcher David Nied wore the number from 1992-1996.

The number 42 was retired league wide in 1997 in honor of Jackie Robinson.  Pitcher Armondo Reynoso wore the number for the Rockies from 1992-1996.  He was the only player in Rockies history to be issued that number.

The Rockies are not known for pitching, in fact they are known more in their history for poor pitching than they are for stellar pitching.  Yet, in their history, there is a name that seems to stand out above other pitchers.  This pitcher played three full seasons for the Rockies and appeared in parts of three others, including their 2007 and 2009 post season teams.  In 2010 he finished third in the Cy Young voting and made his only All Star appearance.

This pitcher ranks high in many pitching categories for the organization including: WAR for Pitchers (1st), ERA (1st), Wins (5th), Wins-Loss % (3rd), WHIP (1st), Walks per 9 IP (9th), Strikeouts per 9 IP (1st), Innings Pitched (5th), Strikeouts (1st), Games Started (5th), Complete Games (3rd), Shutouts (1st tied), K's/BB (5th), Home Runs/9IP (1st), Earned Runs (7th), Wild Pitches (2nd), Hit by Pitch (5th), Batters Faced (6th).

Who is he?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
Congratulations to Hope for answering last week's question!
Steve Finley was a sometimes over looked but irreplaceable piece of the Diamondbacks' playoff teams.  In fact, it seems that almost everywhere Finley went his teams won.  As a rookie in 1989, Finley was part of an Orioles team that very nearly became the first "worst to first" team in history.

Following the 1990 season Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling were traded to the Houston Astros for Glenn Davis.  In his four years in Houston Finley built his reputation as a great young player.  He was strong defensively, had great speed on the base paths and could hit for power.

Following the 1994 season Finley was part of another huge trade.  This one sent Finley, Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Robert Petagine and Brian Williams to the Padres. In return the Astros received Derek Bell, Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez (not that Pedro), Phil Plantier, Craig Shiply and Sean Fesh.  Finley and Caminiti helped turn the Padres into a contentder and reached just their second World Series in team history.

Following the 1998 World Series season Finley was a free agent and signed with the new Arizona franchise where he would help the Diamondbacks win their first ever World Series and achieve the franchise numbers shown in last week's trivia question.

At the 2004 trade deadline the Diamondbacks, now old and rebuilding, sent Finley and Catcher Brent Mayne to division rivals, Los Angeles, in exchange for Reggie Abercrombie, Koyie Hill and Bill Murphy.  The trade worked out for the Dodgers.  On the final Saturday of the season, with the Dodgers facing the hated Giants of Bonds, Finley stepped up to the plate needing just a sac fly to give the Dodgers the division title.  Instead, Finley hit a walk off, pennant clinching, Giant killing Grand Slam to send the Dodgers to the Playoffs.

Following the 2004 season Finley signed with the southern California Dodger rivals, the Angels where he had a frustrating, injury plagued season.  He was traded by the Angels to the Giants before the 2005 season.  After one season with the Giants he signed with the Rockies but was unable to finish the season where he was released in June.

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