Where Are They Now? Former Colorado Rockies 3B Garrett Atkins


Image via YouTube

The Colorado Rockies third baseman from 2003 through 2009 was a budding star… and then it all disappeared very, very quickly. 

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Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2000, Garrett Atkins got to the big leagues in 2003, was a regular by 2005, had four really nice seasons for the Rox through 2008, completely lost his way with the ball club in 2009, and by the end of 2010, he was completely out of the game.

Sure, he had a ten-year professional career (most guys are lucky to get half of that), but considering how strongly he started for the Rockies, how good he was for the team for four straight seasons, and how memorable he was (anybody on that special 2007 team will be memorable), his fall from grace was absolutely immediate.

He kicked around with the Baltimore Orioles as a 30-year old in 2010, slashed .214/.276/.286 in 44 games, and then was out of baseball by July 6 of that season. He caught on with the Pittsburgh Pirates in Spring Training in 2011, but they released him on March 21, and he never played another professional game of baseball in his life.

Remember, this was a guy who finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2005, slashed .329/.409/.556 for the Rox in 2006 (that was good enough for fourth place in the race for NL batting title, and it earned him a 15th place MVP finish), and he slugged another 25 homers and 35 doubles for the playoff club in 2007.

He was remarkably durable for his prime, playing in 608 games across the four seasons from 2005-08, only played in 126 games in 2009 (partially due to ineffectiveness and Ian Stewart), and then… he disappeared. What happened?

Well, for the Rockies’ perspective, Atkins’ down year in ’09 came at a bad time. The club had Stewart waiting in the wings at third base, and they needed that excuse of a poor year to go with the new third baseman. Of course, we know now how badly Stewart played, but the Rox gave him a ton of chances in 2009, 2010, and 2011 — chances they’d have rather taken with a young prospect at the time than having to sign a soon-to-be free agent Atkins to what would’ve been a big deal.

Here’s a great interview with Atkins done in March of 2013. He doesn’t talk a ton about his post-playing career activities, but he does mention a son, talk glowingly of his experiences in baseball, and generally seems as though he’s doing pretty well in southern California so, hey, more power to him.

And while there could’ve been any number of reasons Atkins didn’t pan out in the big leagues after several very good seasons, there’s probably one that stands out above all the others that we shouldn’t forget: baseball is really, really hard.

It’s hard until you get good at it, and then it’s still hard.

It’s hard until you have a great season in the big leagues, and then that paints a target on your back and it becomes hard all over again.

As such, playing careers are short. Really short. According to science (science!), the average Major League Baseball career is 5.6 years. All total, Atkins lasted eight years in the majors and about 11 years in professional baseball. That’s really, really good, and pretty damn far beyond average.

So while he may have disappeared quickly from our minds (and having a guy there now like Nolan Arenado certainly doesn’t help), Atkins was anything but a flash in the pan in the big leagues.

Recently, he sold a big estate of his in southern California, and he’s on Twitter for those of you socially-inclined. (Oh, he earned $17 million, if you’re into that stuff.)

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