Few words really need to be said about Todd Helton. Even though Troy Tulowitzki was recently named MLB Network’s Face of the Rockies, we all know it’s really the Toddfather. He may be nearing the end of his career, and Tulo certainly represents our future more than anybody else, but Helton has played more games in a Rockies uniform than anyone ever, and his dedication to the team through thick and thin makes him a true class act.
That said, this could be his last season. He’s a free agent after this year, but at this point it’s safe to say he’ll never play for anyone else. He’s not one of those aging veterans who’s going to go try to make a couple mil pinch-hitting for a perennial postseason team like the Yankees. He’ll play for the Rockies or nobody. My money’s on nobody.
Helton appeared in just 69 games last season, 64 as a starter. His back problems frequently sidelined him or required that he be taken out early. This led him to tie his own career low in doubles: 16, the same number he hit in an equally injury-riddled 2008. He also managed only 7 home runs. Lest you think all the intensity has gone out of him, though, make no mistake: the Toddfather still has hustle. He legged out a triple in 2012, and even stole his first base since 2006. In other words, he’s down but not out.
The Rockies have been quietly searching for a long-term solution at first base for the past year or so, giving the position their attention for the first time in over ten years. Guys like Jordan Ribera, Ben Paulsen, and Matt McBride are working their way through the minor leagues, hoping for their shot to follow the great Todd Helton. What’s certain is that it will be a long time before the void Helton leaves is truly filled.
My prediction for 2013 is 50 games for Helton. I hope for a grand farewell game some time in late summer, in which Helton hits two doubles and homers off a lefty. I hope I’ll be there. You should be too.
Where will Helton be in 2013? First base as often as possible
Where should Helton be in 2013? First base as often as possible