Legendary Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will get his number retired today at Coors Field. An honor clearly befitting the greatest player in team history. Another honor that should be bestowed on Helton is an invitation to Cooperstown. Todd Helton belongs in the Hall of Fame, no doubt about it.
He has the accomplishments. Five times he was named an all-star. Four times he was awarded a Silver Slugger. Three times he was awarded a Gold Glove. And in his best season, the Toddfather was the batting champ and Hank Aaron Award recipient of the 2000 season.
He has the numbers. A career batting average of .316 ranks 69th best of all time. The 19th best OPS ever with a mark of .953. His 2,519 career hits ranks 94th best, the 1,406 RBI are 73rd most and his 369 home runs are 76th best. And who could possibly forget all the doubles? Todd hit 592 of them in his 17 year career, good enough for 16th best on the all time list. Batting? Check.
Some of Helton's less glamorous numbers might get overlooked, but this is where the proof that he is one of the game's greatest ever first basemen lies. Before the age of 36, there was only one season in which Todd played in fewer than 144 games. Durability? Check. That durability allowed him to play in 2,178 games at first, the fifth most in the history of the game. And in all those games played at first, he has the sixth best fielding percentage of all time at .996. Defense? Check.
One of the best hitters and defenders ever and one of the most durable first basemen ever doesn't necessarily get you into the Hall of Fame, though. To get into the Hall you need to have made an impact. Todd Helton was the face of a franchise for over a decade, no small feat for a smaller market team. He is a beloved fixture of Colorado sports the same way Kirby Puckett is to Minnesota or Nolan Ryan is to Texas.
There will be critics who use the same tired Coors Field excuse when they try to explain why they didn't vote for Helton to get into the Hall of Fame. There will be critics who say the numbers aren't good enough. And there will be some who simply say they didn't see enough of his games because he was a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Keep the excuses. Todd Helton belongs in the Hall of Fame.
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