We continue our look at the top 100 Colorado Rockies of all time in this article. Here, we look at No. 38 on our list, Rafael Betancourt.
Rafael Betancourt is one of the best Colorado Rockies relievers ever because of one word. Control.
His strikeout-to-walk ratio put him among the best of all time with 4.41. Even more impressive, he hit only one batter in his entire career facing 2,787 batters. Betancourt’s control was Gregg Madduxesque.
It 1999, it didn’t look like Betancourt was going to make the majors. He got drafted by the Red Sox but they released him that same year. That prompted a very drastic move. A move to Japan that revitalized his career.
Betancourt spent a year in the Nippon Professional League playing for the Yokohama BayStars. That caught the attention of the Red Sox as they resigned him after the 2000 season. He never played a day for the Red Sox and they released him at the end of 2001.
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It was time for a new start. Betancourt saw every adversity and he didn’t give up.
The righty got that start at the ripe age of 28 where he debuted with the Indians in 2003 after signing with the team and playing in their minor league system in 2002. He started his career with a 2.13 ERA and in his first full season in 2003 went 5-6 with a 3.92 ERA.
Just as 2007 was the best season for the Rockies, it was the same story Betancourt. He went 5-1 with a 79.1 innings with a 1.47 ERA. He padded his resume in the playoffs that year for the Indians. The same club that was oh so close to playing the Rockies in the World Series.
The following two seasons Betancourt didn’t pitch as well and was traded to Colorado for a minor league pitcher. The Rockies definitely one the trade as they got one of the best relievers in their history. He was immediately put to the test pitching for the Rockies who made the NLDS in 2009 giving up one run in three games.
Thankfully he resigned with the club and from 2010-2012 he posted an ERA around three. That production and the lack of depth in the Rockies bullpen gave Betancourt the chance to become the team’s closer in 2012. He excelled and threw 57.2 innings while earning 31 saves.
He struggled with elbow injuries and a Tommy John surgery and he wasn’t the same after the 2013 season. He didn’t pitch in 2014 and after a rocky 2015, the Rockies let him go.
He retired in 2016 ranking high on the Rockies all-time saves list with 58. His overall WAR for the Rockies was 6.1. What was most memorable about Bentacourt was his command and how he never gave up on making it to the majors. Pinpoint accuracy and patience. What else could you ask for from a reliever?