When it comes to Hall of Fame voting, this year will be much less critical and stressful for Colorado Rockies fans than last year when social media campaigns worked to move heaven and earth to help Larry Walker get inducted in his 10th and final year on the ballot.
Former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will be entering his 3rd year on the ballot after appearing on 29.2 percent of Hall of Fame ballots in 2020. Now as a spoiler alert, Helton’s very likely not going to make it in this year and probably won’t in 2022 either. But we should see some progress in his numbers. So what’s going to be a decent number for us to look at?
The first thing we should consider is two new spots being open on the ballot thanks to Jeter and Walker’s inductions. Helton is most likely to be the beneficiary of these votes from voters who cast 10 player ballots that previously excluded him. In 2020 there were 78 ballots with 10 players on them and Helton was on 43 of those. If we’re ambitious and say every one of those 35 voters will now add him, that gets him to 38.1 percent (assuming no voters take him off this year).
Next, let’s take a look at the newcomers to the Hall of Fame ballot this year:
- Mark Buehrle
- Tim Hudson
- Torii Hunter
- Dan Haren
- Aramis Ramirez
- Barry Zito
- Shane Victorino
- A.J. Burnett
- Nick Swisher
- LaTroy Hawkins
- Michael Cuddyer
While Helton will have new competition from two fellow former Rockies, none of the new players surpass him in terms of bWAR. These players are listed here from highest to lowest in terms of bWAR and Mark Buehrle leads the pack at 59.1. With Helton at 61.8, he’s rather unthreatened by the new class with Buehrle being the only real threat to steal spots from Helton. If a voter has two more spots to fill on his ballot after last year, Helton shouldn’t lose votes to the new crew here.
Now, let’s consider where Larry Walker was a few years ago. In 2017 he finished at 21.9 percent and jumped in consecutive years to 34.1 percent and then 54.6 percent in 2019 before finishing at 76.6 percent in last year’s final run. That 12 percent jump followed by multiple 20 percent jumps is pretty incredible. A 20 percent increase would be awesome for Helton, but that may be ambitious.
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Walker’s induction last year, ideally, should help Helton in that more writers will look past the Coors Effect, but I do not believe that he will get that big of a boost from it. The reason being is quite simple:
Walker received a MASSIVE social media push over the last few years of his candidacy that coincided with a rather large adoption of advanced stats among BBWAA writers that cast votes. That helped overlook the Coors Effect and ultimately got Walker inducted. While this is great for the perception of Rockies players, advanced stats show that Walker had a stronger Hall of Fame case than Helton currently does. His induction may provide a bit of a boost, but I don’t think it will be a major catalyst for Helton’s case.
Another area where Helton may benefit is those who hold strong beliefs against PED users and are likely to exclude guys like Bonds, Clemens, and Ramirez. Of all the players on the ballot, Helton ranks 7th in bWAR. Remove Bonds, Clemens and Ramirez and he ranks 4th. If someone’s also pretty anti-Schilling then Helton’s 3rd. This can be another area of opportunity for him to gain some votes.
Ultimately, I think Helton will benefit most from two new spots being open on ballots. Most of the 10 player ballots will likely include him and he’ll flip some other more stringent voters as well, but with no giant social media push, I don’t expect the wave to be as giant as we saw with Walker in the past. That being said, a number I’m hoping to see is for Helton to finish around 42% which would be a great spot for him to be in after his 3rd year. I won’t be surprised if he breaks 45%, but I would anticipate him to be below that.
Where do you think Helton will finish in the 2021 Hall of Fame voting? Let us know in our Twitter poll here.