Is Todd Helton the next Colorado Rockies Hall of Famer?
By David Sharp
Superpower #2: Defense
Helton’s 369 homers are the fewest for a Hall of Fame first basemen in over half a century, and that has undoubtedly hurt his case. What voters ignore about Helton are all of the other less-flashy ways that he excelled, including his sterling defensive work. Unfortunately, no one seems to care about great defense at first the way they do at other positions, especially the awards voters of the late ’90s and early 2000s (remember the Rafael Palmeiro incident of 1999?).
Helton has three Gold Gloves, which isn’t too shabby, but that almost seems to devalue the length of the career that Helton had at first. When you really look at his numbers it starts to become clear that Helton wasn’t just good or even great, he was one of the greatest defensive first basemen in history.
The Toddfather is second all-time among first basemen in Total Zone Runs, behind only Keith Hernandez (who knows a thing or two about the Hall overlooking defense at first). Helton’s 47th all-time amongst all positions, which isn’t just impressive for a first baseman, it’s better than the vast majority of all Hall of Famers regardless of position.
Helton is fifth in games played at first, second all-time in assists by a first baseman, and fifteenth in putouts. He led the league in double plays turned at first six times, was top-five eleven times, and ranks third all-time in double plays at first. He’s also got a .996 fielding percentage at first, good for eighth all-time, and has thirteen top-5 seasons in range factor for a first baseman.
These are some incredible long term feats that clearly have nothing to do with the Coors factor. While the offensive side of Helton’s game peaked early then leveled off, his defense stayed elite throughout his entire career. It doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense, baseball’s history is so long that if you’re in the top two or three in any stat category then you probably belong in the Hall.