The Colorado Rockies had to wait 27 years in franchise history before inducting their first player into the MLB Hall of Fame. When Larry Walker smashed that ceiling—one immune to misconceptions about how mile-height can inflate numbers without regard to the challenges of balancing elevation with road games—he paved the way for future Rockies to do the same.
The next Rockie to enter the hall will be Todd Helton and he’s heading in the right direction. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling passed their tenth and final year on the Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame ballot in 2022, which will unlock more votes for players like Helton and Scott Rolen. After getting 16.5% of the vote in his first year on the ballot in 2019, Helton has worked his way up to 52% in 2022 and that number should rise again this year. Even if it still falls below the 75% requirement, it still has another five years to go after 2023.
Looking ahead, with 30 seasons as an organization in the books, more and more former Rockies will appear on Hall of Fame ballots in the years to come. Although many of these players have shorter tenures in the purple than stars like Walker and Helton and likely wouldn’t have a CR on their Hall of Fame plate if they gained entry to Cooperstown, it’s still great for Rockies fans to see.
Earlier this week, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced the 28 players for its 2023 BWAA Hall of Fame ballot, the Rockies’ pitcher made a semi-surprise appearance: Huston Street.
For the Rockies’ pitchers, there are no exaggerated numbers or misconceptions by the national media. Shooting at altitude is difficult, and learning how to break notes—or not break notes—at Coors Field versus on the road is not an advantage in any light. If Ramy Roquez earns a spot on the Hall of Fame ballot, even if he doesn’t reach a total of 75% of the vote, that’s pretty impressive.
Street arrived in Colorado in 2009 as part of a trade with Oakland that also brought Carlos Gonzalez to the Rocky Mountains in exchange for Matt Holliday. The 2005 American League Rookie of the Year established himself as a talented closer, recording 37 saves in 2006, but also missed 11 save chances. In 2008, he made 18 saves and blew seven times, but then came to Colorado and beat Manny Corpas for the final stint in 2009. In three years at Colorado, he made 84 saves, third on the all-time saves list at Rocky with 84 runs. Brian Fuentes at age 115 and Jose Jimenez.
In 2009, he collected 35 tackles, which is not only tied for fourth with Shawn Chacon (2004) in the single-season record book, but also helped the Rockies return to the postseason. Street only made two saves all season and was the most reliable arm of Colorado’s bullpen. He struck out 70 batters in 61 2/3 innings pitched with a 5.4 K/BB average, 3.06 ERA, and 0.91 WHIP.
Street helped the Rockies win the NL Wild Card to earn an NLDS game against the Phillies. Street shutout the Phillies on their first save opportunity in Game 2, sealing a 5-4 victory to tie the series at 1-1. Thirteen years later, this street save is Rocky’s latest ever.
The next two games in the NLDS did not go well. Entering the ninth inning with the game tied at 5-5, Street gave up a two-run single, a sack bunt, and a Ryan Howard sac fly that lifted the Phillies to a 6-5 win. In the next game, Huston lost again, this time with the Rockies going 4-2 in the ninth. It was a harsh end to a promising season, but Street stayed with the Rockies for another two years.
In 2010, Street struggled with injuries, but still recorded 20 saves, as he lost five in 44 games. In 2011, he recorded 29 saves, losing only four in 62 appearances, but lost the final round to Betancourt. In his three years with the Rockies, Street went 9-9 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.058 WHIP in 167 1/3 innings pitched with 170 strikeouts and percentages of 1.2 HR/9, 1.8 BB/9, 9.1 SO/9 and 5.15 SO/W.
In 2020, MLB.com Rockies reporter Thomas Harding ranked Street the fourth-best reliever in team history, despite having fewer runs than anyone else on the list (Fuentes, Rafael Betancourt, Adam Ottavino, and Steve Reid). Even if it’s fair to assume that Daniel Bard made his way onto that list, Street would still be in fifth place. If he can recover and stay healthy, he can also break the list.
It was in Colorado that Street rediscovered himself, only to be traded to San Diego and become a two-time All-Star before ending his career with Angeles after four more seasons. He retired after the 2017 season with some impressive numbers: 324 saves (20th all-time in MLB), 2.95 ERA, 665 strikeouts, and a 1.07 WHIP in 680 innings pitched over 668 appearances.
It can be difficult for Street to press his ticket to Cooperstown, especially in his freshman year and with Francisco Rodriguez (4th all-time in MLB saves at 437) and Billy Wagner (6th all-time in MLB saves at 422) on the same ballot. It is an honor to win the nomination. For the Rockies to have a pitcher on the ballot is something to celebrate.
Stay tuned for Part Two next week when we look at the potential Rockies who will appear on Hall of Fame ballots in the next five years.
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Does this team have an advantage in chasing the judge? | MLB.com
The good news is, according to MLB Network’s John Heyman, the Yankees are still out on top. The bad news is that Aaron Judge has met the Giants, who play two hours away from his hometown, and San Francisco is expected to offer him a deal soon. The Dodgers also remain in the mix for the moonshining hero, but Hayman thinks Judge has cost too much for their already high salaries. Judge met with members of the Giants’ front office, as well as manager Gabe Kapler, on Monday and Tuesday.
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