Can Germán Márquez be the best-ever All-Star Colorado Rockies pitcher?
Germán Márquez will be the only Colorado Rockies player taking the field in the 2021 All-Star Game. Despite the historic All-Star starter streak ending, Rockies manager Bud Black said that Márquez will pitch no more than an inning during the game.
What kind of performance would Germán Márquez need in order to be the best-ever Colorado Rockies pitching All-Star Game appearance?
All four of the Colorado Rockies pitchers to previously play in the All-Star Game currently rank in the top 10 overall appearances when ranked by Win Probability Added (WPA). Rockies pitchers who get the call have been very good in their appearances. Across four games, Rockies pitchers have allowed no runs and seven hits in seven innings pitched, with five strikeouts, four walks, and one hold recorded. That’s right, no Rockies pitcher has allowed a run in the All-Star Game … ever.
The sample size is small, but it is still critical to understanding how good Márquez must be in order to be considered the best Rockies All-Star pitcher. In order to perform a proper comparison, let’s see how each of these players did individually. Remember, this is only talking about statistics from the All-Star Game. We are not looking at overall careers for this article.
All-Star Game Stats: 1.0 IP, 1 hold, K
This performance being ranked as the worst in Colorado Rockies history shows exactly why WPA is not a perfect stat. Arguably, Fuentes has the best stat line out of all the Colorado Rockies All-Star pitchers. He is the only player to earn a hold and is also the only pitcher to not allow a single baserunner. All of this was in a one-run game. It was an outstanding performance, but the way WPA works is through the timing of the performance. While Fuentes came in at a critical moment, all his pitching did was kick the can down the road in a game that the National League would end up losing in the ninth inning, meaning in the long run his pitching did not have as much of an effect on the game like the rest of these players did.
For the record, .082 is a very high WPA and is seventh all-time for a Rockies player in the All-Star Game (out of 51 appearances). It is very possible to get a negative WPA, which means your play actively hurt the team you were playing for.
So while it might seem that I am trying to make excuses for WPA here, I am actually underselling it. Fuentes had a great game and WPA showed that. It’s just in terms of how the games ended up, the pitchers in front of him on this list were more impactful. In order to match Fuentes’ performance, German Marquez will have to be as dominant as he has been for the last several weeks.
All Star Game Stats: 2.0 IP, 2H, BB, K
Ubaldo Jiménez is the only Colorado Rockies pitcher to start an All-Star Game. That is something that Márquez will certainly not beat this year. Jimenez threw two scoreless innings against the very best the American League had to offer (Ichiro, Jeter, Vlad Sr., etc.). The National League would win the game (something that has happened only six times in the last 30 years) after a three-run seventh inning that consisted of the entire NL’s runs that game.
Jiménez may not have gotten the win, but his scoreless start to the game was the second-best pitching performance overall by WPA. While Márquez may not be starting, if he can come in and get the win for the National League, he can surpass the Coors pitching king.
All-Star Game Stats: 1.0 IP, 1H, 2K
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Greg Holland has the distinction of being the only Rockies pitcher to have more than one strikeout in the All-Star Game. Holland also had the advantage of coming in during a tie game, something that we will learn is great for racking up the WPA shortly. When the game is tied, every pitch matters more, every pitch could either save or doom a team’s chances at victory.
Holland was on his A-game when he got the call in the eighth inning. Holland worked for one great inning and helped send the All-Star Game into extra frames. Some Rockies fans may remember that the National League lost that game in the 10th inning with future Colorado closer Wade Davis on the mound when he gave up a home run to Robinson Cano. That may have been a sign of things to come. Márquez would have to come in towards the end of a close game and be elite in order to beat this mark.
All Star Game Stats: 3.0 IP, 4H, 3BB, K
Here we have it. The best Colorado Rockies All-Star game performance among pitchers and position players, period, goes to Aaron Cook in 2008, the guy who recorded 2.33 WHIP in his amazingly scoreless appearance.
Just like Holland, it all has to do with when he was in the game. By all means, Cook was not supposed to even appear in this All-Star Game. Traditionally, All-Star rosters are overloaded with pitchers and few of them actually end up appearing in the game. The reason Cook came in was that the National League needed a long-haul guy once the game got into extra innings. Cook came in the game and blanked the AL for three straight extra innings, each of which added a lot of WPA to his name.
The NL would end up losing this game in the 15th inning, being walked off by a Michael Young sacrifice fly. Cook’s performance each inning, however, prolonged the game. He was clutch when needed, but the offense failed him.
He was the first pitcher to pitch three innings or more in an All-Star Game since Greg Maddux in 1994, and he absolutely crushed his outing. The only way Márquez can do something similar to this is if he closes out the game, say it’s 2-1 and Márquez gets the save and the win or he is in a long extra innings relief scenario like Cook was. That said, this first-place spot will be hard to beat.
In short, Rockies pitchers have been fantastic when they have made the call to the All-Star games, let’s hope Germán Márquez can continue the trend.
Note: Data for this article was found using Baseball Reference.