Colorado Rockies Top Ten: Serious Lumber

Celebrating their 25th anniversary this season, the Colorado Rockies are one of the youngest franchises in Major League Baseball. The team had a Latino flavor from the start, fitting for a region that boasts at least five generations of Mexican-American family history. That inaugural team in 1993 included Andrés Galarraga (from Caracas, Venezuela) and Vinny Castilla (Oaxaca, Mexico), playing first base and shortstop, respectively. Two years later, the Rockies unveiled their new ballpark, Coors Field, a modern stadium nestled in the Mile High City’s revitalized downtown, with the Rocky Mountains as a dramatic backdrop. The Rockies’ home quickly became known as a hitters’ park, and their lineup featured four players with 30 or more home runs that season — including Galarraga (31) and Castilla (32).

Coors Field can’t shake its reputation as a hitter’s haven and a pitcher’s nightmare. Of late, it’s been bangers like Nolan Arenado and Carlos González leading the Rockies offense, slashing line drives and launching home runs all over the spacious ballpark.

Throughout the 2018 season, La Vida Baseball will be looking at the Top 10 Latinos in each major league organization. Last week we began the series by looking at the Pittsburgh Pirates, where Roberto Clemente was – predictably – the top Latino player in franchise history.

As was the case with the Pirates, any trip down memory lane brings up some great names from the past, all of whom have made an impact on their organization. Given the Rockies’ shorter history and how it overlaps with the height of Latino participation in MLB, Latinos have played a prominent role in the club’s 25 seasons, and current players can quickly move up the franchise rankings in the years to come.

As a reminder, we’re trying to keep it simple with these rankings by using WAR (as calculated by to determine the top 10 on each team.

How many current players will make the all-time Top 10 in Denver? Let’s take a look.


1. Nolan Arenado

27.5 WAR, 5 years with Colorado, 3-time All-Star, 5 Gold Glove Awards, 3 Silver Sluggers
Cuba / Puerto Rico / USA

As Arenado noted in a terrific essay at The Players Tribune last year, he had to make a tough decision for the World Baseball Classic. His father was born in Cuba, his mother’s family is Puerto Rican, and he was born in California. Arenado, who is starting his sixth season at the hot corner for the Rockies, is arguably the best defensive third baseman of his generation and is an annual MVP candidate who has compiled the fourth-highest career WAR in Rockies history before his 27th birthday.

2. Carlos González

23.3 WAR, 9 years with Colorado, 3-time All-Star, 3 Gold Glove Awards, one batting title

CarGo burst onto the scene in 2010, leading the National League with 197 hits and winning the batting crown with a .336 average. The Venezuelan has a career .857 OPS and has been a terrific defensive outfielder in Denver. The Rockies acquired CarGo in the trade that sent Matt Holliday to Oakland — an unpopular move at the time, but one that has looked pretty good in the 10 years since. After much uncertainty this winter, the Rockies resigned the free-agent González for a 10th season.

3. Ubaldo Jiménez

18.6 WAR, 6 years with Colorado, 1 All-Star game, 56-45, 773 Ks
Dominican Republic

Jimenez is the all-time leader in WAR among pitchers in the Mile High City, never an easy place to pitch. His best season was 2010, when the Dominican native made the All-Star team, posted a 19-8 record with 214 strikeouts, and notched the franchise’s first no-hitter.

4. Vinny Castilla

17.4 WAR, 9 years with Colorado, 2-time All-Star, 3 Silver Sluggers

Castilla is the all-time home run leader in the majors for Mexican-born players with 320, 239 of which came as a member of the Rockies. He drove in more than 100 runs in four consecutive seasons (1996-99) and hit at least 32 home runs in five straight (1995-99). When he returned to Colorado in 2004 at age 36, he led the NL with 131 runs batted in. Castilla was the 39th player selected by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.

5. Jorge De La Rosa

15.2 WAR, 9 years with Colorado, 86-61, 985 strikeouts

De La Rosa is the all-time Rockies leader with 86 victories while wearing purple and black. After being involved in two significant trades before arriving in Denver – including the deal that sent Curt Schilling to Boston – he had a lot of expectations to live up to when he entered the rotation. His best season was 2009, when he went 16-9 with 193 strikeouts. His 985 strikeouts are still the benchmark for the franchise.

6. Andrés Galarraga

14.4 WAR, 5 years with Colorado, 2-time All-Star, four top-10 MVP finishes

“Big Cat” played 951 games with the Expos before becoming the first big free agent signing by the Rockies franchise in 1993. He led the National League with 150 and 140 runs batted in in 1996 and 1997, respectively, and drove in 579 total over his five years in Denver.

7. Jhoulys Chacín

14.1 WAR, 6 years with Colorado, 38-48, 514 strikeouts

Chacín is fourth in Rockies history with a 14.1 WAR, and his 38 wins still ranks eighth in club history. His best season was 2013 when he won 14 games and threw a career-high 191.1 innings.

8. Pedro Astacio

10.8 WAR, 5 years with Colorado, 53-48, 749 strikeouts
Dominican Republic

Not many Rockies fans were thrilled when Colorado traded Eric Young for Astacio in 1997, but he was a solid starter for the team for five years. Astacio’s best season came in 1999 when he won 17 games and threw 232 innings, striking out 210 – all career bests. His 14 complete games are still the most ever thrown by a pitcher for the Rockies.

9. Brian Fuentes

9.7 WAR, 7 years with Colorado, 3-time All-Star, 115 saves, 470 strikeouts

How about a closer making the list? Fuentes represented the Rockies in three consecutive All-Star Games (2005-07) and saved 111 games in his final four seasons in Denver. His 115 total saves for the Rockies are still the most in team history.

10. Armando Reynoso

8.4 WAR, 4 years with Colorado, 22-24, 270 strikeouts

Reynoso is the fourth player to represent both Mexico and the Colorado Rockies in our top 10. His best season was 1993, when he won a career-best 12 games and struck out a personal-best 117.


Featured Image: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images Sport