Sports

Keeler: Rockies icon Todd Helton was robbed. But Hall of Fame history says justice is coming.


Todd Helton got robbed. But at least the offenses are down to misdemeanors now.

Eleven votes short.

You kidding me? Eleven? Eight reportedly came from Baseball Hall of Fame electors who turned in blank ballots as a middle finger to the hopefuls — as well as, presumably, to rainbows, daisies, and puppy dogs everywhere.

Nobody curmudgeons like a baseball curmudgeon.

Fun fact, Mr. Grinch: Helton’s lifetime road batting average (.287) was higher than Scott Rolen’s career average (.281) anywhere. Bonus fun: Helton’s lifetime road OPS (.855) was exactly the same as Rolen’s career mark in the same category.

Rolen got let in past the velvet rope to Cooperstown Tuesday. The other guy’s still waiting.

The good news?

He won’t be waiting long.

Helton got absolutely, unequivocally robbed. Yet for The Toddfather, history tells us, a lot of the heavy lifting was in zipping to the front of the line. The Rockies icon jumped from appearing on 52.0% of the Hall’s ballots in January 2022 to 72.2% of them this year, a leap of 20.2 percentage points. The magic number for induction is 75%.

Yet 72.2%, while cruel, also turns out to be a pretty good benchmark when it comes to knocking on the door. Since 1946, eight different MLB players appeared on 72.0-72.9% of the ballots for the Hall of Fame. All eight received enough votes for induction the very next year.

To paraphrase my new best friend Deion Sanders, he’s coming.

The Curse of Coors? Kaput. The Blot of Blake Street? Toast. The Plague of Purple Pinstripes? Washed. The Mile High Mark? Cooked.

Holding Coors FIeld against Helton is like holding the blue against a Rocky Mountain Columbine. The man raked. He raked everywhere. In 2000 and ’01, he became the only man in MLB history to produce at least 100 extra-base hits in consecutive seasons.

If you’re one of those Ebenezer Scrooges who prefers to send back a blank ballot, check the numbers. If you still discount the obvious — a .316 lifetime average; a career .953 OPS; 2,519 career hits over 17 seasons with the same franchise — because of the altitude, then dig deeper.

The continued argument against Helton was that his overall statistics were inflated by thin air and by the bouncy balls at the turn of the last century. Yet according to FanGraphs.com, from 2002-13, Helton’s final 12 seasons in a Rockies uniform, he produced a Weighted Runs Created Plus season (WRC+) of 125 or better on the road — 100 is average, so 125 is 25% better than his peers — seven different times. Including a 123, 23% better than his peers, in 2011, at the age of 37.

If you won’t take FanGraphs’ word for it, Mr. Blank Ballot, then would you lend an ear to Baseball-Reference.com? Among the site’s swath of fun, rabbit-holing tools is its Neutralized Data Finder, a way to compare players and teams regardless of their eras or ballparks.

For kicks, I asked the Baseball Reference computer what Helton’s career stats would look like compared to recent first-base inductees Jeff Bagwell and Jim Thome …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports

      

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