Currently, third base is among the weakest positions on the Rockies team. However, in franchise history it has often been a position of strength or at the very least average. There have been 9 different starters at third base in Rockies history and 2012 will bring #10 because, like second base, no one on the current roster has started there. Let's now take a look at the 5 most accomplished third basemen in Rockies history.
Charlie Hayes (1993-94)
Hayes was the starter at third base in the first game for the Rockies franchise after being chosen with the 3rd overall pick in the Expansion Draft from the Yankees. Although mostly a journeyman throughout his career, Hayes was pretty good fro the Rockies in his 2 seasons hitting .298/.352/.484 with 35 HRs and 148 RBIs. Defense was probably Hayes' undoing having committed 37 errors in his 2 years in Denver. He left the Rockies following the 1994
season strike, joining the Phillies as a free agent.
Vinny Castilla (1993-99, 2004, 2006)
Castilla is fondly remembered as one of the Blake Street Bombers from the mid to late 90s. He actually had three different stints with the club rejoining in 2004 and for a short time in 2006 before retiring. In a total of nine seasons with the Rockies, Castilla hit .294/.340/.530 with 239 homers and 745 RBIs including surprisingly leading the NL in 2004. Castilla was also named twice to the All Star team and won 3 Silver Sluggers. Castilla was traded to Tampa Bay following the 1999 season in a rare four team deal that also involved the A's and Brewers.
Jeff Cirillo (2000-01)
Jeff Cirillo was acquired in the previously mentioned four team deal from the Brewers along with Scott Karl in exchange for Jamey Wright and Henry Blanco. Cirillo was a different type of hitter for the Rockies, more of a contact hitter than a power hitter. In his 2 seasons in Denver, Cirillo hit .320/.379/.475 with 28 homers and 198 RBIs. He was also named to one All Star team as a Rockie. Defensively, he was pretty good with only 22 errors in his 2 seasons. Following the 2001 season, Cirillo was traded to Seattle for three pitchers including Brian Fuentes.
Garrett Atkins (2003-09)
Garrett Atkins was selected by the Rockies in the 5th round of the 2000 MLB Draft as a first baseman, but once he started rising in the minors he was switched to third. He was the primary starting third baseman from 2005-09 and was very good for his first few years. He hit .289/.354/.457 with 98 homers and 479 RBIs in his 7 seasons in Denver. Although Atkins was very good (arguably the Rockies best player for two of those years) through 2008, he is mostly remembered now for how quickly the bottom fell out of his career. He was non-tendered following a poor 2009 season and is currently no longer in baseball.
Ian Stewart (2007-11)
Ian Stewart was the 1st round pick (#10 overall) of the Rockies in 2003 and slowly worked his way through the minor leagues. He made his big league debut in 2007 and became the starting third baseman midway through the 2008 season. Stewart was pretty much a disappointment, but he did hit .236/.323/.428 with 54 HRs and 187 RBIs. Those numbers were dragged down somewhat by Stewart falling off a cliff in 2011, before that he wasn't too bad. This offseason, Stewart and Casey Weathers were shipped to the Cubbies for Tyler Colvin and D.J. LaMahieu.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Baker, Ty Wigginton, Todd Zeile
Voting for the Rock Star third baseman can begin immediately and, as usual, will run through Saturday the 14th (my blog's birthday) at 4PM Eastern time. It is nice to have a position where you might have to think a bit because at least two of these guys would be worthy of winning this battle. As always, your votes are both appreciated and necessary for the process.