A Rockie Road to the Hall of Fame

January 16, 2017
Will a Colorado Rockie (which, by the way, I believe is the proper singular form of "Rockies") ever be elected into the Hall of Fame?
 
The natural answer to that kind of a question is "yes", mostly because, well, "ever" is a very, very long time.  If you say "yes", you may eventually be proven correct.  If you say "no", you can never really be correct….you can only be correct "so far".
 
So maybe the better question is…how likely is it for a Rockie to be elected to the Hall of Fame?  Are there special obstacles to that "Rockie" Road?  Let’s examine that.
 
First of all, let’s eliminate pitchers. I think it’s highly unlikely , given the current setup in Colorado, that a Rockie pitcher would be elected to the Hall.  It’s hard to envision that, isn’t it?  What pitcher is likely to sustain a Hall of Fame career pitching in those conditions?   And even if a pitcher were able to achieve some success, he would probably try and get out of Dodge (or at least Denver) as fast as possible.  Who has been the best pitcher that the Rockies have come up with so far?  Ubaldo Jimenez?  Jorge De La Rosa?  Brian Fuentes? 
 
How have some notable star pitchers (including several relatively recently inducted Hall of Famers) performed while visiting Coors?
  • Greg Maddux was 8-2 at Coors, but with a 5.19 ERA. 
  • Randy Johnson was 7-5, 4.01 (which all things considered, wasn’t too shabby). 
  • Curt Schilling was 4-4, 5.51. 
  • Pedro Martinez only pitched 4 times there, so it’s a small sample, but he went 1-2 with a 4.97 ERA. 
  • John Smoltz pitched 14 times there, half starts and half relief appearances, going 3-2, 4.20, with 3 saves. 
  • Tom Glavine didn’t do too bad….3-3, 3.68 in 85 IP.
  • Clayton Kershaw, so far, is 8-3, 4.63.  
 
Now, granted, those are mostly based on fairly small sample sizes.  Some of those weren’t too bad, and yes, you can certainly win at Coors….but it’s hard to consistently put up sterling pitching lines.  How would these top pitchers fared in their careers if they pitched primarily at Coors?  Would they solve it if they pitched there often enough?  Or, would they generally struggle?  How would they be perceived?
 
So, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for a pitcher to put together a Hall of Fame career while pitching mostly in Colorado, but it is hard for me to envision it.  So, for purposes of discussion, let’s eliminate them from consideration.
 
How about hitters?  If pitchers have the home field working against them, seems like we could surely get some Hall of Fame hitters, right?
 
Not necessarily.  Sure, Colorado hitters typically put up some very impressive stat lines due to Coors, but the problem seems to be that everybody knows that.  What typically happens is that voters, when evaluating hitters’ careers, see the large stat splits between how someone like Larry Walker or Todd Helton performs at Coors vs. other ballparks, and they tend to dismiss their overall records as simply being by-products of being unduly influenced by a favorable home park.  After all, we’ve gotten used to seeing ordinary ballplayers like Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette become stars there.
 
Which leads to a quick sidebar:
 
The Coors Field All-Stars
 
These are my selections for the best stat lines using data only from Coors Field, with HR & RBI in seasonal notation (per 162 games), minimum 100 games at Coors.  And if you aren’t familiar with "tOPS+", we’ll define it in a second, but it’s something to take note of:
 
First team:
Pos
Player
BA
OBP
SLG
HR
RBI
OPS
tOPS+
C
Jeff Reed
.300
.391
.499
20
73
.890
155
1B
Andres Galarraga
.333
.394
.631
48
171
1.025
140
2B
Terry Shumpert
.342
.408
.574
15
62
.982
170
3B
Vinny Castilla
.333
.380
.609
44
141
.989
146
SS
Troy Tulowitzki
.320
.392
.557
33
119
.949
119
OF
Dante Bichette
.358
.394
.641
45
178
1.035
146
OF
Carlos Gonzalez
.330
.390
.618
40
132
1.008
131
OF
Larry Walker
.381
.462
.710
42
141
1.172
141
 
Second Team:
Pos
Player
BA
OBP
SLG
HR
RBI
OPS
tOPS+
C
Wilin Rosario
.309
.347
.533
  28
  103
.880
126
1B
Todd Helton
.345
.441
.607
  32
  122
1.048
119
2B
Eric Young
.352
.431
.489
  12
    79
.920
145
3B
Jeff Cirillo
.378
.438
.576
  19
  120
1.013
154
SS
Neifi Perez
.321
.346
.481
  15
    89
.828
145
OF
Todd Hollandsworth
.349
.402
.620
  30
    95
1.022
164
OF
Corey Dickerson
.360
.414
.679
  31
  102
1.093
160
OF
Matt Holliday
.361
.427
.656
  39
  141
1.082
139
 
As mentioned, in the table, you’ll see tOPS+ , which some of you may not be familiar with.  It’s not the same as OPS+.  Baseball-reference-com defines tOPS+ this way:
 
"This is the OPS for split relative to Player’s Total OPS.  A number greater than 100 indicates this batter did better than usual in this split.  A number less than 100 indicates that the batter did worse than usual in this split."
 
So, in this context, it gives a quick read on how much advantage a player had in his Coors Field vs. non-Coors field data split.  The higher the number, the more unbalanced the split.  I took that figure into consideration when deciding which players to include in the tables.
 
My favorite figures in all of this are the RBI rates per 162 games for Bichette and Galarraga….both over 170 RBI per 162 games while playing there.  
 
I also love Terry Shumpert’s split.  He was a .342 hitter at Coors in roughly 600 plate appearances.  If you remove Coors data from his career numbers, he’s a .230 hitter.  His 170 tOPS+ was the highest I saw for any player with more than 100 games at Coors except for Drew Stubbs, who had a figure of 173 (Stubbs hit .331 at Coors with 29 HR’s and 77 RBI per 162 games there, but he only played about 100 games at Coors).  
 
You may also notice that the tOPS+ split figure for both Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton’s was 119.  That’s still a pretty significant split, as Coors certainly helped them quite a bit, but the split was not as dramatic as most of the others in the tables.  They’re both good players, and their success is not completely attributable to playing at Coors.  Helton on the road hit .286 with a robust .386 OBP, roughly 20 HR’s and 80 RBI’s per 162 games outside of Coors.   Certainly not as stellar as his Coors stats....but not bad either.
 
Back to the Article – and Larry Walker
 
The Rockies have only been around for 24 years, so it’s really not a surprise, in and of itself, that they don’t have any Hall of Famers yet.  They’re still a pretty young franchise.  However, I do think that we have seen how the mindset of some of the voters can work against a Colorado candidate.
 
To date, Larry Walker has been the best Hall of Fame candidate that has played for Colorado.  Joe Posnanski wrote a compelling case in favor of Walker on his web site the other day, and I recommend you read his piece, and I’ll try not to be too redundant with anything he wrote.  If I had a ballot, I don't think Walker would be among my top 10, but, if I were allowed to vote for more than 10, I would vote for him.
 
For those who don't support his candidacy, there are many reasons that someone might adhere to.  He did get hurt a lot, and his career totals aren’t overly impressive.  He’s not a slam dunk.
 
But, a significant obstacle that Walker faces in many voters’ eyes is that his accomplishments are often dismissed as being primarily a by-product of playing most of his career with Coors Field as his home.  They see his .313 lifetime average and say, "yeah, well, he hit .381 at Coors but only about .280 elsewhere", and they dismiss it.  They chalk up the 4 years of hitting over .350 (including 3 batting titles) and the MVP as being attributable to playing at Coors.
 
However…..I think that isn’t totally fair to Walker.  Yes, he benefitted from a very favorable home park.  However, I do think he was a legitimately a very good ballplayer, and perhaps even a great one.  By the time he left Montreal to go to Colorado, Walker was already one of the emerging stars in the league, a terrific all-around talent who could hit for average, get on base, steal bases, field his position, and he had a strong arm.  He had already won 2 Gold Gloves, and was improving as a hitter.  People often overlook his last pre-Rockie season  (1994, Montreal).  Walker was 27 years old, and in 103 games (1994 being a strike season), Walker hit .322 with a .394 OBP.  He also hit 44 doubles.  That’s 44 doubles in just over 100 games, which was on a pace to challenge Earl Webb’s all-time mark of 67.  (Note, Biggio also hit 44 that same year).  Walker was hitting a double roughly once every 10 plate appearances.
 
And in that remarkable 1997 MVP season for Colorado, he had an interesting stat line.  He hit .346 with a .443 OBP and 29 HR’s…..on the road.  Yes, in some of his other seasons with the Rockies, his home/road splits were wider, but Larry Walker was a very good player regardless of his surroundings. 
 
I don’t expect Larry Walker to be elected on the writers’ ballot.  He’s tallying about 24% of the public vote on the Hall of Fame Tracker as I write this, although he would be at around 30% (or higher) if voters were allowed to vote for more than 10 (at least according to those voters who have expressed their intent).  He’s on his 7th ballot, so he is running out of time, and his best bet might be when he re-emerges down the line on a Veterans’ ballot.  I can understand why people don’t rush to induct him, but I hope that they’re not doing so simply because he called Coors home for half his career.
 
Todd Helton
 
The Rockies’ next best candidate for the Hall of Fame is Todd Helton, who becomes eligible on the 2019 ballot.  Others in his class include Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Lance Berkman, and Michael Young.  I would anticipate most of the buzz being around Rivera (who will likely be elected in his first try), Halladay (should be a strong candidate, might take a few tries to get in), and Pettitte (who will certainly encounter his share of obstacles).   Berkman was a terrific player, one of my favorites, but I don’t think he’ll get much support at all.  And Young probably won’t get much either, although his Hall of Fame Monitor score is well over 100, and in another era, he might have drawn a lot of attention with his .300 career average and six 200-hit seasons.  But, I don’t think he’ll draw much support either.
 
So, I think most of the "new candidate" attention will be generated by Rivera, Halladay, Pettitte, and Helton.  Helton, though, will probably run up against the same obstacle that Walker is hitting right now, and with not as strong a case:
 
  • Helton won a batting title….but Walker won 3
  • Helton never placed higher than 5th in the MVP…but Walker won one.
  • Helton had a strong 133 OPS+….but Walker’s was 141
  • Helton had a very solid rWAR of 61.2….but Walker’s was even better at 72.6.
  • Helton won 3 Gold Gloves at 1B….but Walker won 7 in RF.
 
Helton did play more games and has some higher career totals, but I think Walker’s case is stronger, and I would anticipate that Helton’s support will be even less than Walker’s has been.  I anticipate that the voters will look at his .345 average at home and.286 on the road and conclude that Helton simply took advantage of having Coors as his home, and dismiss him as just another Coors-aided candidate.
 
Some Other Comparisons
 
I wonder, though, if that’s really fair to players like Walker and Helton.  You know, when I was growing up, before Coors Field came along, the 2 most notorious hitters parks by reputation were Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.  I thought I’d take a look at the Hall of Famers over the last few decades that called these ballparks home for large parts of their careers (4 Cubs, 3 Red Sox). 
 
Again, note the use of tOPS+….it provides the extent of the "split".  The home and the away figures in these grids will add up to 200 (that is, they will average 100) and the bigger the top number (and the smaller the bottom number), the larger the split in favor of "home".
 
"Away" stats are shaded in yellow.  See what you would think of these players if you only saw their "away" stats.  For most of these stars, since they spent very little time with other teams, I just simply pulled home vs. away, because that essentially covers their whole careers, or at least virtually all, with the exception of Wade Boggs.  For Boggs, I couldn’t just use simple home vs. away since his home park changed in going to the Yankees and the Rays, so I made the effort to specifically compare Fenway vs. non-Fenway in his case:
 
Ernie Banks
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1285
4734
722
1372
218
42
290
909
.290
.348
.537
113
Away
1243
4686
584
1212
189
48
222
727
.259
.311
.462
87
 
Ron Santo
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1136
4075
659
1208
194
39
216
743
.296
.383
.522
118
Away
1107
4069
479
1046
171
28
126
588
.257
.342
.406
82
 
Billy Williams
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1248
4675
761
1413
219
43
245
792
.302
.374
.525
110
Away
1240
4675
649
1298
215
45
181
682
.278
.349
.459
90
 
Ryne Sandberg
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1098
4198
726
1258
217
48
164
607
.300
.361
.491
114
Away
1066
4187
592
1128
186
28
118
454
.269
.326
.412
86
 
Carl Yastrzemski
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1676
5948
994
1822
382
38
237
1063
.306
.402
.503
115
Away
1632
6040
822
1597
264
21
215
781
.264
.357
.422
86
 
Wade Boggs
Because he played for different franchises, his Fenway vs. non-Fenway split is pretty heavily tilted, at least in terms of volume, towards non-Fenway.  His rate stats, however..…..well, he hit .369 in Fenway, and .306 in all others.  Not that there’s anything wrong with .306….but he was a completely different hitter in Fenway.
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Fenway
854
3,176
614
1,173
292
26
52
388
.369
.464
.527
131
Others
1,585
6,004
899
1,837
286
35
66
625
.306
.388
.398
69
 
Jim Rice
Split
G
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
1048
4075
681
1304
207
44
208
802
.320
.374
.546
115
Away
1041
4150
568
1148
166
35
174
649
.277
.330
.459
85
 
All of these players, if you focus on their away stats, look a lot less impressive.  Does that mean they weren’t great players?  No, of course not.  They’re all in good standing at the Hall of Fame (well, OK, many are less than sold on Rice).  But, they all received a pretty significant home park advantage from Wrigley and Fenway. 
 
Compared to these others, did Walker take even greater advantage of Coors than these others did with their home parks?  Probably so, yes.  Walker hit .381 at Coors, and his tOPS+ figure was 141, which is larger than any of these others, although Boggs at 131 had a pretty lopsided figure as well.  There’s no question Walker got a big boost from Coors, and, much like Boggs, took full advantage of it.  The question is, is that enough reason, by itself, to not support his candidacy?
 
Future Candidates
 
For a little while, I thought Troy Tulowitzki had the possibility of putting together a Hall of Fame career.  However, multiple years of significant lost time due to injuries seem to have derailed that train.
 
Carlos Gonzalez?  Good player, he’s had his moments, but I don’t see him on a Hall of Fame track.
 
Matt Holliday Well, for starters, he only played 5 years in Colorado, and has actually spent more time in St. Louis now (8 years), so maybe it's a bit of stretch to consider him a "Rockie" in the first place.  He has been a pretty good post-Colorado player, and had a nice career.  I wouldn't anticipate much support for him as a Hall of Famer, though.
 
If the Rockies have a current "hot candidate" that’s still in progress, it would have to be Nolan Arenado.  Now, it’s extremely early to start talking Hall of Fame, but Arenado is off to a tremendous start.  He’s the two-time reigning NL HR and RBI king, and he was 5th in the MVP voting last year.  In addition, he’s won the Gold Glove in each of his first 4 seasons, which is pretty rare.  The only other players to accomplish that feat were Johnny Bench and Ichiro Suzuki, who both took home Gold Gloves in their first 10 full seasons.  
 
Still….like the other Colorado stars before him, Arenado’s working on that familiar "split":
 
Split
G
AB
R
H
HR
RBI
BA
OBP
SLG
tOPS+
Home
280
1,094
187
337
66
238
.308
.355
.581
119
Away
281
1,058
133
276
45
138
.261
.305
.457
80
 
Now, similar to Tulowitzki and Helton, this split, while significant, is not ridiculously extreme.  But, it’s enough that, if it keeps up, may result in the same type of mindset that has accompanied those that came before him.
 
Wrapping it Up
 
One thing I didn’t address is the "Coors Hangover" effect, which has been written about quite a bit (in fact, as I’m getting ready to post this article, I see that Tom Tango references it in a "Hey Bill" note), so I won’t go into detail here.  My understanding is one thing that would be consistent with such an effect is that, not only would the Rockies hitters hit extremely well at home, which we know they do, but they would also tend to do worse on the road than a typical hitter who wouldn’t have to make the extreme adjustments that a Rockie would.  In other words, a large home/road split for a Rockie would be caused not only by a generous home field on the one hand, but by a harsher than normal road existence on the other, which would exaggerate even further the home/road split. 
 
Something to ponder when evaluating the whole of a Colorado player’s career. 
 
Whether they vote for them or not, I at least hope that voters use careful consideration of the whole story, and not just writing anyone off prematurely without "due process" simply because they had the "advantage" of an extreme home park.
 
Thanks for reading.
    
 
 

COMMENTS (17 Comments, most recent shown first)

flyingfish
Dan: You are welcome, and I'd be happy to proofread any article any time. Seriously. Now, to dance on the head of a pin, the numbers for Yaz actually add to 201....I'm guessing that's the result of two rounding errors.

For what it's worth, I was listening to MLB Radio yesterday, and I heard more people touting Todd Helton as being HOF-worthy than Larry Walker. In fact, nobody mentioned Walker while I was listening.
11:33 AM Jan 18th
 
KaiserD2
This is very interesting. Again, having been interested in sabermetrics since the publication of Bill's 1982 Abstract, I'm scratching my head a little.

My book has something to say about this issue. As you're undoubtedly getting tired of hearing me say, it uses WAA without position adjustments. That is a measurement independent of park and era. My point is that I think any measurement independent of park and era would reach broadly similar conclusions about the players I'm going to mention.

Of the players listed above, Todd Helton is the best, with 6 seasons of 4 WAA or more. I believe that, leaving out Bonds, Pujols, Bagwell, Edgar Martinez, ARod, and Joe Jackson, there is only one hitter that good who isn't in the Hall. Larry Walker had 4 such seasons, and players with 4 such seasons are about evenly divided between those who are in the Hall and those who are not. Other contemporaries of Walker who have 4 seasons of 4 WAA or more are Mark McRafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, and Lance Berkman. In other words--leaving aside PED issues, none of those guys is an unequivocal choice for the Hall of Fame, based on comparisons with choices from other eras.

PEDS are only one of the problems involving the steroid era (Generation X, really) and the Hall of Fame. The second problem--which of course is related to the first, but also independent--is the general inflation of offensive statistics. 500 homers in that era simply doesn't mean the same thing as 500 homers in earlier or later eras. Eventually I suspect the players of the 1990s will be overrepresented in the Hall for the same reason players of the 1920s-1930s already are--playing in a very high-offense era.

David K
7:49 AM Jan 18th
 
DMBBHF
Tangotiger,

You're right, some adjustment in how I worded things would have solved the issue. However, I do have to say that, living in Reds Country all my life, I have heard "Red" used in the singular form many times (such as, "who's your favorite Red?", and never thought twice about it.

Thanks,
Dan
11:22 PM Jan 17th
 
DMBBHF
Flyingfish,

Thanks for calling out the error regarding my statement about tOPS+. You're right....I should have had you proofread the article!

I have made the correction.

Thanks,
Dan
11:20 PM Jan 17th
 
flyingfish
You're probably right, pgaskill, that Yaz popped up rather than striking out. I was in far right field (not the bleachers) and I couldn't actually see the ball that BFD hit out, but I do remember seeing Yaz going back and back to the Green Monster and then looking up and then this leaden silence throughout Fenway.

For years after that when anyone asked me what Mike Torrez's out pitch was I'd reply "A hanging curve ball." Of course, that would have been a easy fly-ball out in any other ballpark.
10:15 PM Jan 17th
 
pgaskill
Fish: I always thought of him as the ultimate clutch hitter too, but then of course that was before Bill James came along in, what was it?, 1981 or so with the first commercially published Abstract. Yaz had played 20 years by then.

He sure was clutch, or at least very lucky, in many spots in that last two weeks of 1967, no question about that. But can ANYBODY be clutch all the time? or even most of the time? I think Bill doesn't think so, and I think I don't either.

I doubt we were ever at the same game. (a) I've NEVER been to a game in Boston. (b) My ML games were: one game Yankees at A's, late summer 1962; a bunch of games in Cleveland, 1966-68 or 9, which could well have included some Sox games; a ton of games in D.C., 1967-71 or 2, which again could have included Sox; a few games in Ballamer, 1968-72; and a REAL ton of games in Seattle, 1978-85 (had season tix in 1980-81), which definitely included some Sox games, including the '79 All-Star Game, where I definitely REMEMBER seeing Yaz; and a buncha Yankee games, 1992-96, which again coulda included Sox but not likely Yaz. (I still live in NYC, but I don't believe I've actually been to a game since '96.) My ONE NL game was in Pittsburgh or St. Louis in Joe Torre's big year, what, 1971?

Didn't Yaz POP UP for the last out of the BFD game? I only listened to it on the radio, as I was at work at the time. I dunno, I thought BD was a pretty good hitter for a SS. . . .
6:49 PM Jan 17th
 
ventboys
Nice article, Dan. I maintain that Larry Walker is this generation's Chuck Klein, and that he'll sail into the Hall of Fame soon after the old timers get a shot at him because he was a little better than the original.

I wonder what the voters will think of Helton? His bulk numbers are good, and he was a more durable player than Walker, who seemed to missed 30 games even in his healthy years. My brain says he's a job for the old timers, but my gut says he might sneak in toward the end of his BBWAA eligibility.

I don't buy into the post-Coors hangover. Gallaraga and Bichette had good years after leaving, and they were old enough that they could have been excused if they didn't.
5:55 PM Jan 17th
 
flyingfish
pgaskill: I remember Yaz as the ultimate clutch hitter. Was he really? I don't know, I haven't tried to look at the numbers, but I do know that when he came to bat in a critical situation, with his bat held high and still, I and everyone else in the ballpark expected something good to happen. (I wonder if you and I ever were there at the same time.) Anyway, in the BFD game--Red Sox fans will know exactly what game I mean and which I attended in person--I remember Yaz coming up to bat toward the end of the game, with that same expectation, and striking out. Is that an accurate memory? I don't know. But despite my saying he was an ordinary hitter away from Fenway, for sure he wasn't an ordinary player.
3:02 PM Jan 17th
 
pgaskill
I had no idea what I would find, but I lived through it at the time and just had to look up how Yaz managed his 23-for-44 at the end of the '67 season.

This was all under the most terrible pennant-race pressure (for Yaz and everyone else on the Sox, Twins, Tigers, and Other Sox. The 4 teams were never more than about a game apart during this time.

12 games. The first 8 were all on the road; the last 4 were home games. In the 8 road games, the Sox were 6-2; they split the 4 home games.

On the road, Yaz had his only 0-fer (Sox won the game), had 1 hit 4x, 2 hits once, 3 hits once, 4 hits once. He hit his 40th, 41st, and 42nd homers.

At home, he had one each 1, 2, 3, and 4-hit game, with his 43rd and 44th homers.

At home in the last 4 games of the season, he was 10-for-14 = .714 (with the 2 homers).

On the road in the 8 games before that, he was 13-for-30, still an all-right .433 (with the 3 homers).

He had several game-winning or late-inning game-tying hits. I saw them as they whizzed by, but I forgot to write them down.

So: He was "hotter" at home; but then, that was when the ultimate pressure got even MORE ultimate, if you will. Sox HAD to win their last 2 games, and they did—while Yaz went 7-for-8. And, again, I wouldn't call his road BA of .433 with a homer every 2 and 2/3 games exactly shabby. ;-)

Like I say, I was just curious. I did have a preconceived notion of what I remembered happening those 50 years ago, but I wasn't out to prove anything: I was totally unbiased in gathering these numbers, all from the BBRef "boxes" section.

I do realize this is only one magical season, and he played quite a few more. I was just checking my memory.
1:59 PM Jan 17th
 
flyingfish
OK, now, like thoughtclaw, I've read the article and it is interesting. One error is this: "Again, note the use of tOPS+….it provides the extent of the "split". The home and the away figures in these grids will add up to 100, and the bigger the top number, the larger the split in favor of "home"." When I add the two figures they add to 200, not 100. They AVERAGE 100, but that's different. To MattGoodrich's point that we should praise someone who uses Coors to his advantage, I think the relevant statistic then becomes how well he does in comparison with his fellow Rockies. It's not enough to deserve credit if you hit 30 HR per year at Coors if most of your teammates also are hitting 30 HR per year.

Your Fenway and Wrigley comparisons are instructive. I had not realized before seeing such a comparison a few years ago what an ordinary hitter Yaz was away from Fenway. A question that comes to my mind when I see splits like this is whether someone like Yaz was smart or lucky. If he was smart, then he'd have learned to take advantage of his home park whichever park that might have been. If he was lucky, then that means he did the same thing wherever he played, but it just happened to fit Fenway well and so he did better there.
11:10 AM Jan 17th
 
flyingfish
I was about to write what thoughtclaw wrote, and then I saw that it had been written it already. It is exactly 100% correct and I can't say it better, but it gives me a little satisfaction to say it again. They are the Rocky Mountains, not the Rockie Mountains. The singular of Rockies, therefore, is Rocky.
10:41 AM Jan 17th
 
tangotiger
I always say "teamname" player, rather than "singular team name".

For example, Billy Hamilton is a Reds player. I would not say Hamilton is a Red. Walker was a Rockies player, and so on. This way, we don't have to argue about a "Red Sock".
10:23 AM Jan 17th
 
thoughtclaw
OK, I've read it now, and I think you make some excellent points. One thing I'd like to add is that Boggs' Fenway years were ages 24 to 34, and he hung on until he was 41. So it seems quite likely that his non-Fenway numbers are skewed by the fact that he was declining with age after leaving the Red Sox. It certainly doesn't invalidate any of your points, though.
9:18 AM Jan 17th
 
thoughtclaw
I haven't read the article yet, but I object in the strongest possible terms to your assertion that the singular of "Rockies" is "Rockie." They aren't named after the Rockie Mountains, they're named after the Rocky Mountains. You're not the first writer who's aroused my ire on this issue, and you surely won't be the last. But I don't see why this is so difficult for people.
8:57 AM Jan 17th
 
jaybracken
Maybe I missed it in the article- if so, apologies. But what is the "average" home/road split? For like all players, hall of fame players, etc...
It would be useful to see how much more these players were helped than a typical player is by playing in their familiar environment.

Also, for Boggs -- I'd point out that Boggs played at Fenway when he was in his prime, and then for other teams afterwards. So for a more useful comparison you might want to only look at Boggs at Fenway when he was with BOS, and away stats for those same years.
8:53 AM Jan 17th
 
rwarn17588
Good points all the way around. I would vote for Walker in a heartbeat, but it would take considerably more persuasion to vote for Helton. Walker was simply a more complete player. If he'd played in New York, they would've called him the second coming of DiMaggio.

And I agree about Arenado. We watched him quite a few times during his AA season in Tulsa. He was rough defensively at the time, and he tailed off badly after a hot start with the bat. In fact, we saw him singlehandedly blow a close game with two errors. What I didn't know at the time:

1) He started in Rookie League with a sub-.900 fielding average. I know folks shouldn't look at fielding averages TOO closely. But an .899 fielding average throws up a big red flag. The fact he got his fielding average to the .950 range by Tulsa showed he was getting better, and obviously his abilities jumped dramatically after that.

2) The year he was in Tulsa, the Texas League experienced a soul-sucking heat wave for most of the summer. One time, we went to a game where the first-pitch temperature at 7:05 was 110 degrees. The high that day was 114. (Fortunately for us, our seats were in the shade.) No damned wonder Nolen tailed off in August; he probably never played in weather conditions day after day like that in his life.

Arenado is such a great defensive player, I suspect he might have a very good shot at the HOF if he simply keeps playing at a high level for another five or six seasons. The indications look good -- he increased his walk total by about 35 last season, which bumped up his OBP nicely. He's heading in the right direction.
1:27 AM Jan 17th
 
MattGoodrich
I've never entirely figured out if large home/road splits are a positive or a negative. If someone hits 10 road HR and 30 HR at home, we now say he isn't really that good. But shouldn't we praise him - he's able to take advantage of the unique characteristics of his park. He plays half his games there, if he can really step up his game half the time, isn't that a good thing? Granted, if he was traded to another team he probably wouldn't do nearly as well.

I'm not sure we should be so critical of someone like a Bichette. If he'd played his whole career at Milwaukee, it wouldn't have been as long, but put him in Coors and he figures something out and excels.
1:18 AM Jan 17th
 
 
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