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Rockies will retire Todd Helton’s number 17

Feb 9, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT

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For the first time since 1997, the Rockies will have a full-time first baseman not named Todd Helton. Helton announced his retirement in September, ending a 17-year Major League career. His Hall of Fame case will be debated in earnest the closer we get to 2018. For now, as Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports, the Rockies will honor Helton by retiring his number 17 on August 17.

[Helton] will become the first Rockie to receive the honor for his playing career in a pregame ceremony at Coors Field on Aug. 17, fitting for No. 17.

It will conclude “Retire 17″ weekend. The three-day event begins with a Todd Helton Farewell bobblehead on Aug. 15 for the first 15,000 fans. Saturday will feature Helton collectible jerseys, and Sunday will include the ceremony and Helton bobblehead gnomes for 15,000 fans.

Helton had a ridiculous five-season run from 2000-04 in which he posted an aggregate .349/.450/.643 line. He led the league in all three triple-slash categories in 2000 and blasted 49 home runs in ’01. He retires with a career .316/.414/.539 line, one of just 17 players since 1901 (min. 7,500 career plate appearances) in the .300/.400/.500 club:

Player Year BA OBP SLG PA From To
Todd Helton 2013 .316 .414 .539 9453 1997 2013
Albert Pujols 2013 .321 .410 .599 8546 2001 2013
Chipper Jones 2012 .303 .401 .529 10614 1993 2012
Manny Ramirez 2011 .312 .411 .585 9774 1993 2011
Frank Thomas 2008 .301 .419 .555 10075 1990 2008
Larry Walker 2005 .313 .400 .565 8030 1989 2005
Edgar Martinez 2004 .312 .418 .515 8674 1987 2004
Stan Musial 1963 .331 .417 .559 12717 1941 1963
Ted Williams 1960 .344 .482 .634 9788 1939 1960
Mel Ott 1947 .304 .414 .533 11348 1926 1947
Jimmie Foxx 1945 .325 .428 .609 9676 1925 1945
Lou Gehrig 1939 .340 .447 .632 9663 1923 1939
Rogers Hornsby 1937 .358 .434 .577 9480 1915 1937
Babe Ruth 1935 .342 .474 .690 10622 1914 1935
Harry Heilmann 1932 .342 .410 .520 8966 1914 1932
Ty Cobb 1928 .366 .433 .512 13082 1905 1928
Tris Speaker 1928 .345 .428 .500 11992 1907 1928
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/9/2014.

  1. ryanoffski - Feb 9, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    Good. He deserves it

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 9, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Truly a great hitter, always a pleasure to watch play. Best wishes and good luck with retirement.

    • ch0psuey - Feb 9, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      Great player he always owned my Padres whenever they played against him,

  2. hopespringseternal - Feb 9, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    Bonds?

    • Bill Baer - Feb 9, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      Just missed out with a .298 batting average.

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 9, 2014 at 8:10 PM

      Truly a great hitter, always a pleasure to watch play. Best wishes and good luck with retirement.

  3. cohnjusack - Feb 9, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Helton had a ridiculous five-season run from 2000-04 in which he posted an aggregate .349/.450/.643 line.

    Hmm…I wonder if there is some context to why that was so other-worldly…

    Todd Helton was a great hitter, but just citing his slash lines while omitting that it occurred in the greatest hitting environment in baseball history is a bit disingenuous.

    1st Baseman ranked by Adjusted OPS+ – 2000-2004 (min 1500 PA)
    Albert Pujols — 167 (didn’t really become a 1B until 2004 though…)
    Jason Giambi — 167
    Todd Helton — 160
    Jim Thome — 158
    Carlos Delgado — 154

    Man, whatta scrub. Couldn’t even top that Pujols guy or MVP winning Jason Giambi during his absurd peak when you adjust for park factors.

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:16 PM

      Helton has performed as an above average hitter for the most part of his career. Truly he was one of the best of his era with a bat. Additionally, he isn’t the first great hitter that played in a hitter’s ball park. Though out base ball history this has happened with many other pasted great hitters that played in hitter friendly ball parks.

      • cohnjusack - Feb 9, 2014 at 11:49 PM

        First off, I think you missed a bit of what I was trying to say. In that
        1. Todd Helton’s number extremely gawdy numbers were certainly a product of Coors Field
        2. Regardless, Todd Helton was still really, really damn good during his peak.

        That being said, Coors pre-humidor was a very different beast than any other “hitter-friendly” ball park.
        Example:
        .343/.408/.987
        That was the ENTIRE ROCKIES team spilts at home in 1996.
        Well, perhaps they were just a really great hitting team?
        .228/.295/.357
        That was their road splits.

        Yep, the 1996 Rockies at the best hitting home team in baseball by a mile, and the worst hitting road team in baseball by a mile. That is the effect of the most extreme hitting environment in modern baseball history.

        Coors was not just another “hitter friendly” park in those days. It was utterly ridiculous.

  4. raysfan1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    Yes, we will discuss Helton’s HoF case much more in 2018, but I’d like to address it a bit now.

    On the list above, all career .300/.400/.500 hitters are in the HoF through Stan Musial. Of those since then, Frank Thomas has now been selected, and Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols both obviously will be. That leaves Helton, Larry walker, Edgar Martinez, and Manny Ramirez. Ramirez should resign himself to not being a Hall member due to his PED back ground. Martinez has been held back by anti-DH bias. Walker has been held up due to Coors Field’s rep, even though his career OPS+ is 141. Helton’s career OPS+ is 133. It’s possible he eventually benefits from a less crowded ballot, but at first he will follow Walker’s fate and also have his vote totals hurt by Coors’ rep.

  5. sportsfan18 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    I’m a big Todd Helton fan.

    His home – road splits tell it all though.

    His being a member of the 300/400/500 club happened due to Coors Field.

    In half of his MLB games, all his road games, his lifetime batting average was less than 300.

    His on base percentage was less than 400.

    He didn’t slug over 500 either.

    Food for though, John Olerud, had over 9,000 plate appearances in the game as did Helton.

    Olerud’s road batting splits were better than Helton’s. Olerud is never thought of as a HOF player. What if Olerud had played in Coors his whole career?

    I mean Olerud hit .301 on the road in his career. His OBP was .402 and he slugged .464

    Helton didn’t have road splits like that. The difference between them was their home ballparks as Olerud out performed him in all the other parks in the bigs for a full half of their careers.

    • raysfan1 - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

      Olerud deserved more HoF love than he got. His OPS+ is a little lower than Helton’s at 129 (vs 133). His WAR is also slightly lower at 58.0 (vs 61.3). There isn’t much difference over all though, and it will be interesting to see if the .300/.400/.500 will be enough of an eye catcher to nudge him
      over the threshold for the voters. If the ballot thins out a bit by 2020 or do, it just might be. If he were on the ballot now, like Larry Walker, he’d get crowded out.

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