Todd Helton: A Hall of Famer?
With the way the Mets have been performing, I have said recently that I miss the New Haven Ravens. They were a local AA team from 1994 – 2003 that played at historic Yale Field. They were affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays.
Having the Ravens in New Haven (actually West Haven) was wonderful. It was convenient – you could decide to go to a game at the last minute. It was extremely affordable. Although the team complained about Yale Field, there was something to be said for seeing games in that historic venue. And the quality of ball with players on the way up was exciting.
Reminiscing about the Ravens, I got to thinking about the period that they were affiliated with the Rockies. One of the top players I had the pleasure to watch on numerous occasions was Todd Helton. It’s funny to think that I saw him coming up, as he is on the back-end of an incredible major league career. So here’s the question, are his career credentials sufficient to get him a ticket to the Hall of Fame?
Just look at his statistics:
He is a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger, 4-time National League Player of the Month, 3-time Gold Glove winner and 2-time Colorado Rockies Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award winner.
In 2000, he was the National League Batting Champion and led the National League in Slugging Percentage, RBIs, Doubles leader (tied for the third-highest single-season doubles total in NL history), Hits, On-Base Percentage, Total Bases and Extra Base Hits. He also led the NL in On-Base Percentage in 2005 and 2007.
At the end of the 2009 Major League Baseball season, Helton had the third-highest career batting average of all active players at .328 (behind only Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols) placing him sixth among all players whose careers began post-World War II.
He holds Colorado Rockies club records many categories including hits, home runs, doubles, walks, runs scored, RBIs, on-base percentage, games played and total bases.
Some of Helton’s other distinctions:
- Only player in MLB history to have 100-plus extra base hits in consecutive seasons.
- One of only four players in MLB history (Chuck Klein, Jimmie Foxx and Lou Gehrig) to have reached 400 total bases in consecutive seasons.
- One of only five players in MLB history (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg – the first ever in the National League) to have at least 200 hits, 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 100 extra-base hits and 100 walks in one season.
- One of only three first baseman in MLB history (Lou Gehrig and Bill Terry) to have at least a .315 batting average in eight consecutive seasons.
- One of only five players in MLB history (Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig) to have at least 500 doubles, 320 home runs and a .325 batting average for a career.
- Among active players with at least 4,000 at bats, he is currently: third in batting average (behind Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki), first (10th all-time) in on-base percentage, fourth (13th all-time) in slugging percentage (behind Albert Pujols, Manny Ramírez and Alex Rodriguez) and third (10th all-time) in on-base plus slugging (behind Albert Pujols and Manny Ramírez).
- Only player in MLB history to hit 35 or more doubles in at least 10 consecutive seasons.
Seems pretty cut and dried, or does it?
When you look at his numbers home vs. away you see some pretty significant differences. His batting average on the road is a respectable .292, but at home it is an amazing .357! His home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage are 50% higher at home than on the road. He has approximately 25% more hitsand about 30% more total bases at home.
This raises some interesting questions that will have to be answered about very good players who spend their careers in Colorado. Clearly, Helton’s numbers have been aided by playing in the rarified air of Coors Field. So, the question is, “should his numbers be looked at differently because he played his home games at Coors Field and should this affect his Cooperstown eligibility?”
Coors Field isn’t the only stadium that offers advantages to its home team’s players. Other stadiums can drastically affect players statistics such as hitter’s parks Citizen’s Bank Park and Yankee Stadium or the pitcher friendly Citi Field.
The differences between stadiums is one of the beauties of the game and can affect players both positively and negatively. How many home runs would Willie Mays have hit if his home games weren’t played in the Polo Grounds and Candlestick Park? In my opinion, the differences are part of the game and that being said, Helton could start preparing his acceptance speach for his Cooperstown enshrinement.
Anyone wish to share their thoughts?