The 100 Greatest Colorado Rockies: 93 Joe Kennedy
By Ben Macaluso
We continue our look at the top 100 Colorado Rockies of all time in this article. Here, we look at No. 93 on our list, Joe Kennedy.
Unfortunately this isn’t the only Rockies pitcher on this list who passed too soon. With the Rockies, Joe Kennedy was part of a young promising pitching core in the early 2000s. While it didn’t work out, Jason Jennings, Shawn Chacon and Kennedy gave this city hope there could be a new era of pitching at Coors Field. A big part of that was Kennedy, who surprised a lot of people coming over from Tampa Bay where he went 3-12 and with a 6.13 ERA eventually being converted into a reliever.
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In 2004, though, he turned everything around in the most unlikely place. He went 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA. At the time it was the best ERA for a Rockies pitcher with more than 150 IP. His WAR of 5.6 that year for a pitcher that year was simply legendary. He was able to keep home runs down allowing .94 HR/9 but his 1.42 WHIP would be a sign of things to come. He was simply giving up too many hits and walks.
The next year was a big regression for Kennedy as he went 4-8 with the Rockies with a 7.04 ERA and a -1.7 WAR. In July 2005, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for Eric Byrnes and Omar Quintanilla. In 2007 he spent time with the A’s, Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays and became a free agent in the offseason. That offseason, Kennedy collapsed at his in-laws home and was pronounced dead at the hospital. He died of heart disease. He was survived by his wife Jami and a 1-year-old with another baby on the way in 2007. He was 28 years old.
He made a tremendous impression on his teammates with Todd Helton and Matt Holliday reading Bible verses at his service. Nick Bierbrodt, Dan Haren and Frank Thomas were among the pallbearers. Thomas kept Kennedy’s glove in his locker during his final big-league season and greeted Kennedy’s family at his Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
Thomas Harding wrote a wonderful piece commemorating Kennedy’s impact. It’s a must read, not only to know how important Kennedy was to the Colorado Rockies but his baseball brotherhood. Colorado became an important place for him buying a home here before he passed. Kennedy’s memory will always be at home at 20th and Blake being one of the Rockies best pitchers of all-time.
Next: Looking at the 10th-Best Prospect in the Colorado System