Colorado Rockies News: Another Rocky Mountain Hall of Fame in 2021

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One of the highlights of 2021 for Rocky Mountain fans has undoubtedly been the long-awaited induction of Larry Walker into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. After 10 long years on the ballot, Walker finally landed the necessary 75% of the vote in 2020, his final year on the ballot. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the induction ceremony was repeatedly delayed until it finally happened in September 2021. We were finally able to celebrate Walker and his professional achievements and Colorado rejoiced. However, he wasn’t the only former Rockie to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.

In 2021, former Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis from British Columbia, Canada was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. Francis spent most of it of his career in Colorado and his accomplishments as a big league pitcher. earned him a place where other BC athletes, including Walker himself, were dedicated.

The early years

A pitcher from a young age, Francis grew up to be one of Canada’s top prospects for Major League Baseball while playing for the University of British Columbia, even appearing on the cover of Baseball America with fellow Canadian Adam Loewen. They would both be selected in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft, with Loewen finishing fourth overall with the Orioles and Francis going ninth with the Colorado Rockies. Their caps remain the highest draft picks for Canadian-born players in MLB history.

From there, Francis moved quickly through the Rocky Mountain farming system and ended up in Double-A Tulsa in early 2004. Things started to really take off for Francis when he recorded a 13- record. 1 with a 1.98 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 113. 2??3 work sleeves. He excelled in his promotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, posting a 2.85 ERA in 41 innings for the Sky Sox. His performance in 2004 resulted in both Baseball America and USA today named him Minor League Player of the Year, becoming the first Rockie to win either award and the fourth player in baseball history to be honored by both publications in the same year.

The years of the league

All the success and notoriety allowed Francis to be called up by the Rockies for his debut on August 25, 2004, against the Atlanta Braves. Francis pitched in the sixth inning but allowed six runs on six hits and three homers. Chipper Jones hit two of them to lead in five points, but Francis had eight punches in the game. He would struggle on his second start but would take his first win in his third start after throwing 5 1??3 shutout against the San Diego Padres. Francis finished the year with a 3-2 record, with a 5.16 ERA.

From there, Francis would find a groove in the Rockies’ rotation starting in 2005. He posted a 14-12 record despite a 5.68 ERA, but his ability to pitch plenty of innings helped him become a valuable part of the rotation. He ended up finishing sixth in the Rookie of the Year vote that year.

2006 saw Francis develop even further as a major league starter when he was 13-11 with a career-best 4.16 ERA in 32 starts. His best start came on July 24, 2006, when he netted a two-hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field on 129 shots. He had a perfect game until the sixth inning before allowing a single with a broken bat. This was further proof of the full potential that lay in Francis and the following year would prove that fact.

The year 2007

I still have a 2007 sweater that features several of the Rockies’ top players and Jeff Francis is in the middle, and for good reason. Francis had a career year winning 17 games and recording 165 strikeouts in 215 1??3 sleeves. He also posted a 4.22 ERA and became the real ace of the team and helped them qualify for the World Series.

On October 3, 2007, Francis became the first Canadian starting pitcher to win a playoff game by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings of work. He would pass the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS, allowing one run on seven hits in 7 1??3 innings and become the second Canadian starting pitcher to open a World Series game. Despite the final World Series result that year, Francis clinched a ninth place finish in the National League Cy Young Award voting and made a name for himself in Rocky Mountain history.

The last years

Unfortunately, Francis started to decline after the 2007 season due to injuries. He suffered pain in 2008, posting a 4-10 record with a 5.01 ERA, and underwent surgery that cost him the entire 2009 season. He will return to pitch 20 games for the Rockies. in 2010, 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA, and will become a free agent after the season.

Francis would spend the 2011 season with the Kansas City Royals in another lean year, but still provided a reliable arm for 31 pitched starts. However, after a brief stint in the Reds’ organization in 2012, Francis returned to a struggling and injury-ridden Rockies team, where he had a quality season. In 24 starts, Francis posted a 5.58 ERA with a 4.27 PIF in 113 innings, and also had the opportunity to be the veteran mentor of the club’s younger arms. He would sign for another year in Colorado, but 2013 was an unforgettable year for Francis as he split his time between rotation and the bullpen. He would end his Rockies career 64-62 with a 4.96 ERA, 742 strikeouts and 333 walks in 1,066 innings.

He bounced around multiple teams in 2014 and spent 2015 with the Toronto Blue Jays before hanging up, but Francis will always be remembered for the dominating stretch and potential he showed during his time in Colorado. He was the overlooked player because instead of pure speed he was a master of deception and control, and would find a way to cheat his opponent at home plate.

His induction into the BC Sports Hall of Fame last year is a huge honor that Rocky Mountain fans should take note of and celebrate. Francis remains one of my favorite Rockies pitchers of all time because in my eyes he has been an important part in the development of Colorado’s pitching philosophies and his place in the many Rocky Mountain pitching categories, this which makes him a Hall of Famer for BC as well as the Rockies.

(For more on Induction and Francis’ baseball life story, check out this article)

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