Ellis Burks, OF, 1996
Stats: .344 AVG, 211 H, 142 R, 45 2B, 40 HR, 128 RBI, .408 OBP, .639 SLG, 1.047 OPS
Ellis Burks was a first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 1983. Rather than a 1990 season, where he was an All-Star and Sliver Slugger award winner, he never reached his top potential with the Red Sox. After a solid season with the Chicago White Sox he joined the Colorado Rockies before the 1994 season. In his first month with the Rockies, he won NL player of the month in April. Although, much like his time in Boston, injury struck as Burks injured his left wrist in May and didn’t return until late July. Add in the players strike of 1994 and Burks only played 42 games for the Rockies.
In 1995, the Rockies added Larry Walker to play right field. With Dante Bichette cemented in left field, Burks split time with Mike Kingery in center. Burks appeared in 103 of the 144-game season, batting .266 with 14 home runs and 49 runs batted in that year.
Kingery left for Pittsburgh, opening up center for Burks. He stayed healthy all year-long and picked up the void that was left when Larry Walker was injured with a broken collarbone. Burks finished third in the NL MVP voting in 1996. He led the league in runs scored, total bases, and was third in slugging percentage. By no surprise, it was the best year of his career as Burks never hit more than 35 home runs or logged 100 runs batted in any other point in his career.