Perhaps one of the more interesting players up for enshrinement in the MLB Hall of Fame this year is the former Rockies first baseman, Todd Helton. While Helton’s statistics, advanced metrics, and being the leader of his team help his case, his candidacy will most likely be impacted on how voters view playing at Coors’ Field.
The Case Against
No Home Away from Home
The first way to judge any player that has had the advantage of playing half of their games in the high altitude of Denver is to look at their home and away splits. When it comes to Helton, it clearly looks like playing in Colorado helped to inflate his stats. For starters, his .345 Batting Average plummets to .287 on the road and his OBP and Slugging Percentage take similar hits while hitting 85 fewer home runs.
Career Tail Off
Next, the final award of Helton’s career came in his age 30 season when he won his final Gold Glove and appeared in his final All-Star game. His 32 home runs that season was the last time he hit over 21 in a season for the remainder of his career and he would only hit 118 home runs in his final 9 seasons.
The Case For
While Helton’s career might not have ended quite how he would have wanted, his start was legendary. In his debut season, he slashed .315/.380/.530 with 25 home runs and 95 RBIs, finishing in a very close 2nd behind Kerry Wood for Rookie of the Year. From 2000 through 2004 Helton won 4 Silver Sluggers, 3 Gold Gloves and was voted to the All-Star game in every season.
A Clean Career
Despite playing in what is now known as the Steroid-era, Helton’s name has never been associated with PED use. During a time where many found a shortcut to boost their stats, Helton appears to have stayed clean and should be rewarded. Meanwhile, his bWAR of 61.8 ranks higher than 2018 inductee Vladimir Guerrero.
While Helton is far from a slam dunk Hall of Famer, his performance on the field has made him more than deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown.
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