Stemming from a conversation Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews were having on the Phils broadcast last night, I want to take a little time to talk about a certain Colorado Rockies star who I’ve seen tearing it up in baseball for the past 14 years.
Todd Helton has been an absolute force in baseball. You would think the aging first baseman would lose a step at the beginning of each season but instead would find himself in midseason All-Star discussions and in the top 15 in batting average each season.
In his 15th season in the majors, Helton is hitting .323 with 10 doubles, six homers and 20 RBIs heading into tonight’s game against the Phillies.
Many can attribute those stats to the fact he’s played 50% of his career games in Denver’s Coors Field. The high altitude and thin air have made that park notorious for inflating players’ career numbers, but that shouldn’t be the case for Helton and his path to Cooperstown.
Helton’s home/away numbers are very interesting to look at. He’s a career .355 hitter in the confines of Coors Field and a .295 hitter on the road. His home run and RBI totals are also nearly doubled.
But Helton’s .324 career average is fourth among major leaguers, behind Ichiro Suzuki (.3303), Albert Pujols (.3296) and Joe Mauer (.326). Helton has more years under his belt than the three ahead of him.
Helton isn’t just a for-average hitter. He averages 28 homers and 104 RBIs in a 162-game season, numbers that are certainly Hall of Fame worthy.
Helton has also cemented his place in Rockies lore as arguably the greatest player to don their jersey in the franchises young history. His .324 average is tied with long-time teammate Larry Walker and his 339 homers and 1207 RBIs are light years ahead of Walker’s and the rest of the competition.
If and when Helton’s decline starts and he reaches quitting time, his legacy will surely be remembered in the Denver area. All that is left is a World Series ring, which the Rockies have gotten close to with their first pennant win in 2007 and late surges the past two seasons.
If he gets the ring, Helton will have a place right next to Denver Bronco’s savior John Elway and Colorado Avalanche’s netminder Patrick Roy as one of the greatest athletes in Colorado’s sports history.