Retired Major League Baseball star Todd Helton was eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time in 2019. The long-time Colorado Rockies first baseman received votes from only 16.5 percent of voters, well short of the 75 percent required for induction. However, in the 2020 balloting that jumped to 29.2 percent. It’s expected that number will rise in 2021.
Will 2021 be Todd Helton’s Year?
In 2020 only two players reached the 75 percent mark: the New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and Todd Helton’s Rockies teammate Larry Walker. Jeter’s selection in his first year of eligibility was widely expected, while Walker took a slower route, gradually increasing his total each year until he made it in year ten of eligibility.
Most observers expect Todd Helton to enjoy a similar climb in year-over-year voting. If he eventually is chosen for the Hall, it probably will be a few years down the road. He’s a long shot to be a 2021 selection.
It’s in Todd Helton’s favor that there aren’t any consensus choices such as Jeter on the 2021 ballot. Helton was tenth in the voting in 2020 and he can expect that place to rise in 2021.
Todd Helton’s Case for the Hall of Fame
Todd Helton’s career statistics stack up favorably with players already in the Hall. He had 2,519 hits and 369 home runs, good for 98th and 81st all-time, respectively. He was way up the charts in doubles, being 19th all-time with 592. He was a five-time all-star and a three-time Gold Glove winner.
Todd Helton’s on-base plus slugging (OPS) was .953, 18th all time. Admittedly, that number was helped by playing half his games in Colorado’s hitter-friendly Coors Field. A better objective statistic is wins above replacement (WAR), where Todd Helton holds a lifetime WAR of 61.2. That’s slightly below the WAR average of 66.9 for Hall of Fame first baseman. However, it’s a WAR that ranks comfortably within the expected range for Hall of Famers.
Todd Helton doesn’t have the eye-popping numbers that demand near-unanimous enshrinement, but his career body of work fits in nicely with players who have made it.
Todd Helton’s Baseball Career
Todd Helton was born in Knoxville, Tenn., and stared at his hometown University, the University of Tennessee. He was the 1995 Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. He was drafted in the first round that year by the Rockies, and he made his major league debut in 1997. He had a monster year in 2000, when he led the majors in batting average, RBIs, doubles, total bases, extra-base hits, slugging percentage, and OPS.
He retired after the 2013 season and later Todd Helton became the director of player development for the University of Tennessee. He and his wife Christy Bollman have two daughters.