Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton was robbed of the 2000 NL MVP Award
Colorado Rockies legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Larry Walker is, to date, the only player to ever win an MVP award while he was with the team as he won the 1997 NL MVP Award. However, at least one other Rockies legend should have won an NL MVP Award as well: Todd Helton.
Helton had a few seasons that he could have been considered for the NL MVP award and he finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting in three seasons. But he should have won the NL MVP Award in 2000.
Colorado Rockies legend Todd Helton should have won the 2000 NL MVP Award
In 2000, Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had a magnificent year and should have won the NL MVP Award but instead, he came in 5th in NL MVP voting.
In that season, Todd Helton played in 160 games and he hit .372/.463/.698 with 42 homers, 147 RBI, 216 hits, and 59 doubles. The only stat among those that did not lead the NL was his 42 homers. That was 7th in the league but, in retrospect, at least three of the players ahead of him (Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Gary Sheffield) are believed to or have since admitted to taking PEDs. At the time, though, this was not known (or at least widely acknowledged).
Helton’s batting average, slugging percentage, RBI, and OPS (1.162) led the majors but also led the majors. He had an OPS+ of 163, which was third-highest in the NL.
Defensively, he was one of the best players in the National League. In 2000, Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) had not yet been created so prior to 2003, we have to look at DRS’s predecessor, Total Zone Runs (TZ or Rtot). It’s not quite as accurate as DRS but it is still calculated for players today so that they can be compared to all players from before the DRS era.
Helton had 18 TZ in 2000, which led all first basemen in the majors. It was also the third-highest in the NL that year.
That amounted to Helton having an rWAR of 8.9 and an fWAR of 8.3, both of which were the highest in the National League.
But the Colorado Rockies were not a great baseball team. They went 82-80 in that season, which was the first full season for Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd and also, the first season of manager Buddy Bell. And, perhaps, most importantly was that Helton played half of his games in Colorado. Helton still hit .353/.441/.633 on the road … but that didn’t matter.
Instead, San Francisco Giants second baseman Jeff Kent won the NL MVP when it could be argued that Kent wasn’t even the best player on his own team. By rWAR, that honor belonged to Barry Bonds.
But Helton was still the clear winner in nearly every category.
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The only other player that led in any category was Bonds, who bested Helton in homers, walks, and OPS+ (188 to 163).
For Helton, winning the NL MVP Award in 2000 may have cemented his Hall of Fame resumé but, fortunately, BBWAA Hall of Fame voters have started to recognize that Todd Helton and other Colorado Rockies offensive players are not playing half of their games on the Moon as, in fact, it may be harder to hit as a member of the Rockies since they have to go to sea level for half of their games and adjust to hitting at sea level.
Most likely, Helton will make it into the Hall of Fame in the next few years and join his former teammate, Larry Walker, but he still should have won the NL MVP Award in 2000, whether you look at numbers commonly used at the time or advanced sabermetrics of today’s era.