Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
We knew that Colorado Rockie legend Todd Helton would have his jersey retired. It was just a matter of time. Now we know when. The Rockies have announced via twitter that they will retire Helton’s #17 during an August 15-17 series against the Cincinnati Reds. It will be a great time to remember Helton, who not only was a great baseball player but is also a great man.
Todd Helton is the best player in the Rockies’ short history, with apologies to Larry Walker. He is the all-time leader in games, at-bats, and most of the other meaningful counting stats. Helton was the first face-of-the-franchise for the Colorado Rockies, and is a class act. That much is for certain. This announcement, though, also gives us a chance to look at Helton’s chance at the Hall of Fame.
The Colorado Rockies are one of the few teams who have not had a player inducted to the Hall of Fame. Walker was the closest, but the Rockies still don’t have a representative in Cooperstown. Helton should be the first inductee. It makes sense, because he is the best player in their history and also the most well recognized (although he never won an MVP, much to the dismay of fans). Unfortunately, though, there seems to be a raging debate about whether Helton will make it to Cooperstown. The case against Helton is this: he never won an MVP, he didn’t hit a ton of home runs, and his numbers were Coors-inflated. All of that is true, and Helton does have some slanted home-road splits. But it isn’t as if he was terrible on the road, and he did hit 369 total home runs.
When all is said and done, I think Todd Helton will eventually make the Hall on the strength of his career OPS (.953), gaudy hit total, and the fact that his stats compare favorably to some of the first baseman in the Hall of Fame. His peak years were also tremendous, as he had a five-year run with an average of 37 home runs, a .349 average, and a 1.093 OPS (how did he not win an MVP???). Anyway, the purpose of this post was not to give Todd Helton’s case for the Hall of Fame. The purpose is instead to tip our caps to a class act. Helton’s number is being retired in August, and I think now is a good time to pay tribute to a Rockies legend. We love you, Todd!