This has nothing to do with the Orioles, but nonetheless I wanted to make note of Andres Galarraga's retirement. The man was just a hell of a hitter, with a career line of .288/.347/.499 with 399 homers and 1,425 RBI. His numbers are partially Coors-inflated, yes, but Galarraga became a better hitter from 32 on period, as can be seen in his two-season stint with the Braves at ages 37 and 39 when Turner Field was playing as a neutral park. Given that, I'd say his best season was in fact at 37, when he hit .305/.397/.595 with 44 taters and 121 RBI in his first season back in the real world after The Coors Experience.
The early Rockies are of course remembered for three players mostly: Galarraga, Dante Bichette and Ellis Burks. Let's look at all three of them in their first seasons away from Coors:
AB AVG OBP SLG HR Galarraga 555 .305 .397 .595 44 Bichette 575 .294 .350 .477 23 Burks 390 .282 .394 .569 31
Galarraga with Atlanta, Bichette with the Reds and Red Sox, and Burks with the Giants.
My point? All three of them were legitimately good hitters at that point. Bichette would play just one more season, while Burks would hang on until last year, though his last full season was 2002 with the Indians, and he was still mashing.
And it brings me to the case of Todd Helton, who in raw numbers is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, very quietly because the Rockies stink and no one pays attention, and many of those who do pay attention simply underrate him because of the Coors factor. Good hitters are good hitters; Galarraga and Burks were good hitters, and Coors actually seems to have made Bichette a better hitter in his two years after than he had ever been before Coors. Helton is a great hitter. Coors is its own animal, and while it certainly can make mediocre players have better numbers, I don't think there's any good reason to ignore guys like the four I'm talking about just because their home park is the most bizarre positive hitting environment in baseball history. I'm not saying Burks or Galarraga were HoF-caliber guys, and Bichette certainly wasn't, but they were more than just products of a freak ballpark.
And, for note, Galarraga retires with the third-most strikeouts in major league history as well, behind Reggie Jackson and our very own Sammy Sosa. Amazingly, Sosa is still over 400 behind Jackson, but I believe he can do it.
Galarraga is retiring because he didn't hit particularly well this spring (.235 with three homers) and was unlikely to make the Mets' 25-man roster. I think that's a shame, but if Willie Randolph's spring lineups are any indication, that team is going to be managed right out of contention. Doug Mientkiewicz needs a platoon partner and the Big Cat could've been that guy. David Wright shouldn't be hitting eighth, but who am I to argue with Willie Randolph?
Kevin Appier may also be calling it quits if he doesn't make the Royals squad and no one else picks him up, as he has no interest in returning to the minors at age 37. Appier seems older to me. The guy has been around forever. He had some outstanding seasons early on in his career but mostly was just a solid, reliable starter with the bulk of his career spent in Kansas City, with stops between stints with the A's, Mets and Angels. I imagine Royals fans would remember Appier very fondly, a first round draft pick (ninth overall in 1987) that panned out and was a cog in the rotation from 1990 to 1997, where he posted a better than league average ERA every year. Besides Appier, only Greg Maddux did that in the same timeframe.
And for what it's worth, since if you're anything like me you were wondering: Freddie Toliver career statistics.