There has been a lot of Todd Helton love flying around these days (careful not to get any on you) and that has been good. His amazing career won't end with a grand farewell tour filled with gifts and an exclamation point. His career will end with a period.
Todd Helton was here.
I attended yesterday's game. Sorry everyone that brings my RRWIIA (Rockies record while I'm in attendance) to a ghastly 0-8 this season. That record symbolizes the frustrations that I, and many fans, have had with this team each year, but the Toddfather's performance inside each game symbolizes the unique greatness of his career.
Profound awesomeness trapped inside incessant losing.
But it's not the losing that really grinds my gears today. The losing, the unassuming attitude, the thin air, and performance enhancing drugs have all muddied the Todd Helton for hall-of-fame debate and I just can't take it anymore.
I'd like to get to the PED problems in a future piece where I can get into more detail. Suffice it to say that I am of the belief that Helton and players like Frank Thomas are the real victims of the PED era, if they are clean.
I just threw something across the room for having to write "if they are clean" at the end of that sentence.
That we can't even discuss the HOF without discussing PEDs is proof that everyone who is clean, whether we know it or not, is a victim of other peoples drug use.
By the way, every single person who is in favor of PED users being admitted should not be allowed to even utter the words "Coors Field" when discussing Rockies player's merits. Todd Helton played his entire career in a stadium and for a team that was sanctioned by and overseen by MLB in exactly the same manner as every other park. Roger Marris and MIckey Mantle aren't disqualified for hitting home runs into a short-porch in right field approximately 112 feet away.
If we are letting people in who didn't play by the rules, and eventually we are going to have to let some in (Bonds, Clemens) how can we hold something against a player that was not only playing explicitly inside the rules, but also was in no part a decision on behalf of the player.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of unfortunate facts for those who have to bring it up, but Coors Field is legal and doesn't help you to a career .414 on base percentage.
Which brings me to my next point, in the new age of understanding how offensive production works more deeply, in the age of realizing that getting on base may be the single most important thing a player can do, how is Helton for the hall even a debate? Todd Helton was second in the league in OBP for over a decade to only Barry Bonds (who certainly had some "help") and has a career walk rate of 14.1 percent.
If we no longer need a pitcher to lead the league in Wins to get a Cy Young, we shouldn't require a player to get 3,000 hits or 400 Home Runs to get into the hall. Todd Helton has a career wRC+ of 132. Do I care if he got on via a hit or a walk? I do not.
If Todd Helton played his whole career as a Yankee people would call him Toddy baseball and this wouldn't even be a discussion.
Oh yeah, and all of this is, of course, without mentioning defense which for some reason baseball people seem to think is mostly irrelevant. So I guess the countless number or errors, base-runners, and runs that Todd saved over his career don't count for anything? Like at all?
I understand that defense is difficult to measure, but it is half of the game and no one who ever watched him play would argue anything other than that Todd Helton was simply one of the best fielding first-baseman, especially in terms of digging out balls in the dirt, of all time.
Helton's retirement has been quiet. Hell, Todd's whole career has been pretty quiet. And people with short attention spans tend not to notice something until it's screaming in their face. This will never be the Toddfather so he has tacitly left the making of his case up to others.
He may not flip bats like Manny, he may not stare down his home runs like Bonds, and he may not flash that world winning smile like A-Rod or Griffey, but Todd Helton showed up every day for work without fanfare and quietly did his job better than almost anyone who had ever tried it before.