It’s officially the offseason with the Houston Astros taking home the World Series title and we are now in for a long winter without baseball. To pass the time until baseball returns we will have to pass the time with trade rumors, Hall of Fame voting, and fighting over last season’s awards. With the conclusion of the season, MLB will begin releasing the winners of the awards from last season, starting with Gold Glove winners, which were announced last week.
Not many Rockies will be up for post-season awards this season: Brendan Rodgers won the Gold Glove at second base and he and Charlie Blackmon are finalists for Silver Sluggers in their respective positions. With those being the main awards this season’s Rockies can look forward to, this article will look into the time a Rockie was robbed of a National League MVP.
The year was 2000. The world had survived Y2K, Enron still existed, and there was controversy surrounding an election. Yes, that election was to determine the National League Most Valuable Player for the 2000 season. Jeff Kent, second baseman for the San Francisco Giants went on to win the award, but was he the best player that season? Let’s take a look.
The top five players in the NL MVP voting in the 2000 season were Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jim Edmonds, and Todd Helton. The chart below breaks down the stats for each player:
2000 MVP Candidates Stats
Specifically, let’s look into how Todd Helton ranks, after all, this is a Rockies’ blog. Of the finalists, here’s how Helton ranked out of the finalists:
In all meaningful offensive stats, Helton was first in all but home runs and RBI, which offers a case to be the league’s MVP, right? Well the voters didn’t think so and Helton finished FIFTH in the voting that year despite being top in the most offensive stats.
Okay, okay, Helton did have crazy numbers and this was still a couple years before the Rockies installed the humidor in 2002, so maybe these numbers were caused by playing half the his games at a pre-humidor Coors Field. If this is what you thought seeing those stats, you, too, could be apart of the Baseball Writers of America that vote on the season awards. This was the reasoning to put Helton fifth in the voting with only a single first place vote.
Luckily, we have advanced stats that can show a player’s value and contribute compared to the league adjusted to park. One stat we can look at is WAR, or Wins Above Replacement for those not familiar, which shows how a player is compared to a “replacement level player”. (For this article, we will be using Baseball References’ calculation of WAR, known as bWAR)
In the 2000 season, Helton had a bWAR of 8.8, better than the rest of the top five players, with second highest, Barry Bonds having an 7.7 bWAR. Another advanced stat we can look at is OPS+, which is a player’s slugging percentage park-adjusted across the league with the league’s average at 100. Helton’s OPS+ of 163 was second only to Barry Bond’s 188 for the 2000 season. As these park adjusted stats show, Helton’s numbers weren’t just a product of Coors Field. Both Helton’s traditional stats and advanced stats were among the league’s best and were better than the fifth place finish he ended up.
The result of Helton being overlooked for the MVP award for this season has impacts on his chances of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The same arguments that pushed Helton to fifth in the MVP voting are the same skepticism voters have putting Helton into the Hall of Fame. Add that to the other argument is Helton’s lack of an MVP season, the voters for the Hall of Fame have reluctantly added Helton to their ballots. Helton has gradually increased in votes, most recently with 52% of the ballots last year (75% needed for induction). Hopefully the trends continue for Helton’s Hall of Fame campaign and the 2000 MVP voting doesn’t hurt his chances in the end.
Do you think the voters had the right MVP for that season? Let us know in the comments!
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The Rockies front office wasted no time to start making moves once the off-season officially kicked off. With the trade sending Hilliard to the Braves, the Rockies were able to open an extra spot on the 40-man roster prior to free agency and the Rule 5 Draft. Hilliard showed signs of power, but ultimately struggled to put the ball in play with a high strikeout rate and low batting average. In return, the Rockies get a RHP who pitched at High-A level last season in Dylan Spain. The righty pitched 56 innings last season with a 5.30 ERA and 60 strikeouts.
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Former Rockie Matt Holliday retired from professional baseball in 2018, finishing his career after the Rockies 2018 postseason run. Holliday is back in the league, returning as the St. Louis Cardinal’s new bench coach for the 2023 season. The former outfielder has experience coaching, helping with the staff at the Oklahoma State University baseball program the past three seasons. Holliday will replace Skip Shumaker as the Cardinals’ bench coach next season as they try to defend their NL Central crown.
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Sunday afternoon was the Arizona Fall League Fall Star Game, including Rockies’ prospects Zac Veen and Grant Lavigne making the roster for the National League. Zac Veen had an impressive performance, earning the fifth best performance of the game according to author Sam Dykstra. Veen led off for the National League squad and reached base three of his five plate appearances, including an RBI single in the 9th inning. The outfielder also notched a stolen base, which his 16 on the fall is the most in the AFL since 2011.
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