Yesterday, we wrote about the retirement of Vladimir Guerrero. Today, it’s Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton who is expected to call it quits soon according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
Helton will retire following the end of this season and the 40-year-old will end his career with the Colorado Rockies as the franchise’s top player of all-time. He is the Rockies career leader in nearly every important offensive category including hits, home runs, runs, RBI, doubles, and walks. His 2,235 games are also the most of any player wearing the Rockies’ uniform.
In the end, Helton will be an interesting call for the Hall of Fame. He was an extraordinary player, but others have better credentials. His 367 career home runs in the steroid era probably aren’t enough for induction but his .317 career average is extremely impressive. In addition, unfairly or not, there will always be a large segment of the population that question his gaudy stats being a product of the rarefied area in Colorado. Playing at Coors Field was an advantage for Helton, but the true question is how much of one?
Helton still probably has something left in the tank, but his retirement doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Though he continued to hit well, his power has been gone for quite a while. He is still capable of hitting 15-20 home runs a year, but Helton hasn’t topped 20 since 2004. His batting average has also taken a significant hit over the past two seasons. Helton batted .302 in 2011, but last year, he hit a career-low .238. Things haven’t been much better in 2013 as he’s batting only .244 on the season.
He also hasn’t been as reliable on the field, either. While he played in at least 140 games in every season up until 2008 after his 1997 rookie season, Helton has been on the bench a bit more lately. He played only half of 2008 and 2012, and has only played in at least 130 games once in the past six seasons.
The time is right for Helton to step down, but fans won’t soon forget his 17-year run in Colorado.