It was considered likely that Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton would call it a career after the season, but he made it official on Saturday, telling the Denver Post that his 17th season will be his last. So far this season he is hitting .244 with 13 home runs and 52 RBI in 112 games (390 plate appearances).
Injuries have hampered the 40-year old Helton over the last few years, but is he a Hall of Famer?
Helton hit .315 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI in 1998, starting a run of seven straight seasons where those were at or near his low-water marks in all three categories. His best seasons came in 2000, when he led the National League in batting average (.372) and RBI (147) along with 42 home runs, and 2001 when he hit .336 with a career-high 49 home runs and 146 RBI. He made all five of his career All-Star appearances (2000-2004) through that stretch of seven seasons, and won three Gold Gloves (2001, 2002 and 2004) as well.
Helton ranks in the top-10 among active players in many notable offensive categories, including doubles (586-first), batting average (.317-fifth), on-base percentage (.415-second) and hits (2,505-fifth). Playing home games at Coors Field has surely helped Helton, but his numbers are still very good (including 367 career home runs and 1,397 career RBI as of this writing) and if his decline over the last few years is not enough evidence it’s worth mentioning he has never been tied to performance-enhancing drugs.
Helton will surely go down as one of the more under-appreciated players of his era, since the national spotlight rarely found him. The Rockies only made the postseason twice during his career (2007 and 2009), with a notable run to the World Series in 2007.
Some Hall of Fame voters that have taken a stance against players who were tied to performance-enhancing substances may hold Helton in high regard, but I don’t think he’ll ever be put on enough ballots to earn induction.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.