Another series, another list. As the Colorado Rockies go to San Francisco to face the Giants, let’s look back at some of the Rockies (and Giants) greats to call both Coors Field and Candlestick/Oracle Park their home. These players may not be great in the grand scheme of baseball, but to the Rockies and Giants, they are in a league of their own.
Eric Young Sr.
5. Yorvit Torrealba
Yorvit Torrealba makes this list for pretty much one reason: He was Colorado’s primary catcher in 2007. Just like the rest of the team that year, it rose him to almost superstar status. It also helped that he was very instrumental for the Rockies’ postseason run that year, batting .500 in the NLDS against the Phillies. He also hit a critical three-run home run that gave the Rockies the win in Game 3 of the NLDS. He was also an integral part of the sole win in the 2009 NLDS against the Phillies, hitting a two-run home run that put the Rockies up 3-0.
While his numbers were never phenomenal, he was an important part of the two most important years in Rockies history.
4. Neifi Perez
Neifi Perez was one of the first minor league deals signed for the Colorado Rockies in 1993. He made his debut in 1996 and was an everyday starter for the team for three and a half seasons, even winning a Gold Glove for the team in 2000. Perez also was effective with the bat. While his batting average was not as high as the rest of the Blake Street Bombers, he led the league in triples in 1999.
3. Bill Swift
Bill Swift is one of those people who makes the list for what they did for the other team. During his three seasons in Colorado, Swift was not great. He saw his playing time limited by poor performance, though he ended his time in Denver with a winning record.
Before coming to the Rockies, Swift went on an absolute tear with the Giants, winning the ERA title in 1992 and coming in second in the Cy Young vote in 1993.
Like many pitchers at Coors Field, his stuff stopped working at altitude. We have seen this happen many times before, pitching at Coors, especially pre-humidor, throws in different factors than anywhere else. Swift is the perfect example of why many pitchers in the 1990s were rumored to have “No Coors” clauses in their contracts. In San Francisco, though, Bill Swift was one of the best.
2. Ellis Burks
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- Top 5 players to play for the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers
In 1996, Ellis Burks led the entire team in WAR by a solid 3.7 (the second place person on that list is number one on this list). He was one of the famous Blake Street Bombers that sent the Rockies to their first postseason berth. The fruits of his labor netted him three appearances on the MVP ballot (including finishing third in 1996), two All-Star games, two Silver Sluggers, and a Gold Glove.
He was productive outside of Colorado as well. When Burks arrived in San Francisco, his bat got even hotter at sea level, increasing his batting average and OPS while playing for the Giants. This resulted in his last appearance on MVP ballots in 2000 when he batted .344 and had an OPS of 1.025!
Ellis Burks was one of the greats, so who could be in front of him?
1. Andres Galarraga
You probably already had the name Andres Galarraga bouncing around your head when you saw the Ellis Burks only in second. Galarraga is just that good, that iconic of a Rockie, that it had to be him.
Don’t worry, he will show up in a few of the future lists as well as he was a journeyman, but let’s break his Rockies and Giants career down.
Galarraga was a free agent signed by the Rockies in 1993 at the insistence of Don Baylor during his six seasons with the Rockies, he appeared on the MVP list five times (including four times in the top 10), appeared in two All-Star Games, was a home run champion, two-time RBI champion, Silver Slugger, and won a batting title in 1993. The rest of his career saw three more All-Star Games, two more top 10 MVP finishes, two Gold Gloves, and one more Silver Slugger.
While none of these awards happened in his time in San Francisco, he was still productive at the plate, batting .301 and helping send the Giants to the playoffs in 2003. While his metrics put him just below the average Hall of Famer, it is a shame that he was one and done on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2010. While Galarraga may not be an MLB Hall of Famer, but he is certainly a Colorado Rockies Hall of Famer.
Note: Data for this article was found using Baseball Reference and Wikipedia