Todd Helton is the best player in the 20-year history of the Colorado Rockies — there’s very little argument on that point. Helton is also one of the most popular Rockies among the fans over that same time period, so it makes the next sentence very difficult to write.
Helton is done and probably should have retired at the end of last season.
Granted it is only eight games into the 2013 regular season, but anyone who has watched Helton’s at-bats has to admit that there is something wrong. The problem is that something wrong is more than just a slump, or a bad week. Every player has those over the course of 162 games, but that’s not what this is.
This is a player who has lost his speed both in his hands and his bat. Helton has always been one of the best at fouling off pitches and he’s still doing that, but it is different. The foul balls are weak pop ups down the left-field line, indicating a lack of hand speed.
Helton has also been fooled on pitches more in the first week then he normally his through a whole season. It’s difficult to watch him walk back to the dugout after striking out knowing he was over-matched. When Helton does put the ball in play these days, they are weak ground balls or harmless pop ups. After Tuesday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, Helton is hitting .095.
There were signs of the old Helton at the end of spring training where he was hitting the ball extremely well, but it is spring training for a reason. There’s no way to sugar coat it — Helton’s hands are very slow and that speed does not come back once it is gone.
Helton is always going to be considered one of the greatest Rockies of all-time, and nothing he does this season is going to change that. As a fan, though, watching him through the first eight games has been painful. The player we see out there today is not the one that has graced Coors Field for so many years.
I only hope that I am wrong and Helton can find his swing for one more glorious season under the Colorado sun, but in all honesty, it appears to be over for the greatest Rockie ever.
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7