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Thursday Rockpile: Spring awakening

Wake up Rockies fans, the sun is rising! PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT! ROLL CALL!


Perhaps spurred on by the discussion started here Tuesday about Todd Helton's future, and since Helton was one of a handful of Rockies position players to arrive early to camp, some reporter felt inclined to ask him about that bigger picture. Which I"m grateful to whoever it was that did so to help fill in Helton's side of the story.

As for my take on it, what I can help fill in for the rest of you, well, I'm still working on it. It's turning out to be more complicated than I naively thought it would at first, but hey, you'll get Beyond the Boxscore style WAR charts (based off of Sean (CHONE) Smith's database) and all the bells and whistles when I'm finished, including the one after the jump comparing Helton to a few notable non-Hall of Famers (so far, at least):


For those that immediately see Helton's sag at the end of this chart relative to the other players, don't be discouraged, that's almost entirely a function of the length of his career rather than the quality of it. Give him three more seasons of between two and four wins of value, and he winds up looking as good or better than these three players. Of course, most Hall voters don't look at WAR charts, but they're pretty useful for us bloggers when making comparisons.

By the time I'm done with the article, I'm also going to try and make charts to estimate what Helton's career would look like with a few different end scenarios, including one with 3000 hits as a near HOF lock, one with a quick drop off and exit after his current contract expires in 2011, and one as a Pete Rose-esque lingering cancer where he'd be hurting the team in pursuit of HOF goals (which I think everybody -including Helton himself- is in agreement won't happen, but I'll show what it would look like).


While I can get all sabermetricky with my WAR charts on occasion, I also try to keep myself keen to the stuff the numbers can't quite figure out yet, one of which I think I should point out from Renck's blog post about the early arrivals in camp yesterday:

The group includes, among others, Todd Helton, Clint Barmes and Eric Young Jr.

I point out the work ethics of our current and potentially future second baseman fairly frequently, but it probably bears repeating. It's why I believe both are more valuable to the franchise than a lot of people realize. That's not to say there aren't better players out there or that being an elite talent precludes one from also having a similarly strong work ethic (see Helton) but I do believe that particularly at their somewhat marginal talent level, having a strong work ethic helps Barmes and Young elevate their games to a point where they should remain MLB viable longer than one would normally expect.

This might sound like damning with feint praise, but seriously, it's not. I recognize even a low end MLB talent has skills millions of people can only dream of, but adding constant practice and dedication to craft can only help. I really do think Barmes and Young get unfairly written off at times by people who only see what's printed at FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference.


The Post also has a mailbag with fans questions for manager Jim Tracy, which I haven't read all of yet. I hope it's good.