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8/20/1973 (43 y, 7 m, 2 d)
1995 June Amateur Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 8, Overall: 8, Team: Colorado Rockies
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Helton, playing the final game of his career Sunday, went 1-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout. (9/29/2013)
Todd Helton: One Of Fantasy Baseball's First Studs
Blake Murphy (RotoGraphs)
Five Moments From Todd Helton's Final Five Seasons
Paul Swydan (FanGraphs)
Worst Final Seasons, Part One
Paul Swydan (FanGraphs)
How the Scouts Saw Roy Halladay and Todd Helton
Alex Remington (FanGraphs)
Early Batted Ball Distance Gainers and Losers
Chad Young (RotoGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
The master of the line drive returned in 2009. Helton had his customary high line-drive rate (24.7% in 2009, 25.2% career), but the fact that it was high even in his poor 2008 season (23.4% line-drive rate in 2008, .347 wOBA in 2008, .419 career) gives his owners pause. What exactly happened in 2008? Looking across his secondary statistics, his career has been remarkably consistent. Sure, he had a power spike for a while when his fly-ball rate was higher, but he's settled in now, making a quarter of his contact of the line-drive variety, murdering fastballs especially (+193.8 runs lifetime), and riding his always-high BABIP (.341 career) to nice batting averages. And there's the rub. In 2008, his uncharacteristically low BABIP was .298. That, and the fact that his contact rates were down a little, was the difference between 2008 and 2009.
The Year Ahead:
As there is with any 36-year-old, there's some risk with Helton due to his age. He's had some lower back problems that were especially bad in 2008, so caveat emptor. On the other hand, the back issues and lack of power may lower his cost in drafts and make him a value. It looks like he can keep putting up the line drives – and, therefore, the plus batting averages – in his sleep, and since his game doesn't depend on speed or power, perhaps he can age well. Of course, there's always the back issue lurking, so he shouldn't be a starter in mixed leagues and even deeper league owners should consider drafting a back-up to hedge their risks. (Eno Sarris)
For the first time, Helton had a truly lackluster season with the bat. The 37-year-old's power has been on the wane for several years, but his .256/.362/.367 line and .328 wOBA didn't distinguish him from Jonathan Herrera, much less elite first-base sluggers. Helton, hampered by a degenerative disc condition in his lower back, missed nearly a month of the season and managed a measly .111 ISO. He still took his walks (14.2 BB%), but Helton's lumber looked slow, as he was exactly average against fastballs (+1.41 runs/100 versus fastballs since 2002) and pulled fewer pitches. From 2002 to 2009, Helton pulled the ball 38% of the time, went up the middle 32%, and went to the opposite field 30%. In 2010, he pulled 30%, went up the middle 36% and went oppo 34%. Pulled pitches have the best results for most hitters. According to wRC+, which adjusts a hitter's wOBA for park and league effects, Helton's bat was 128% better than average when he pulled, but 12% below average to center and 82% below average to the opposite field. A relative rebound might be in store, but betting on a late-30s player with a balky back is risky. (David Golebiewski)
The Quick Opinion:
Helton's days as a fantasy stalwart are over. He's still a good source of OBP and he might not be so punchless in 2011, but you'd be nuts not to have a backup plan in the likely event that Helton's back acts up again.
After an abysmal 2010 that made it seem as though his career was near its end, Helton put together a solid 2011, hitting .302/.385/.466 with 14 home runs, but it’s a far cry from his heyday when he was a lock for 30-40 home runs and 100 or more RBI. Even the enviable durability he showed has left him over the last couple seasons. The Rockies may use the newly acquired Michael Cuddyer at first base to help rest Helton’s problematic back, which will further cut into Helton’s playing time. If you can get him for a buck or two in an auction or in the later rounds of a snake draft, he might be worth leaving in a utility spot, but Helton’s days of being even a second-tier option among the first basemen is behind him. (Dan Wade)
The Quick Opinion:
Gone are the days of Helton as an underrated power option, but that doesn’t make him unplayable in NL-only. Just have sane expectations when considering drafting at 38-year-old with known back issues.
Todd Helton used to be a mythical beast capable of hitting for elite average and power. For five straight seasons, Helton hit at least .329 and smacked 30 homers (for a frame of reference, that has only happened seven times in the past five seasons). Unfortunately, those five seasons were 2000-2004. Since, injuries have robbed him of what was setting up to become a sure-fire Hall of Fame career. Last season, the injury in question was a torn labrum in his right hip, for which he needed surgery in August. If that wasn't bad enough, he also needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee in November. If the first baseman responds well to his surgeries, he will be the team's starting first baseman in the last year of his contract, and he will follow the same routine from the past few years -- which was essentially to play two out of every three days. Without much power. And a dwindling batting average. (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
Helton only played six second-half games in what was easily one of the worst seasons of his career. The other worst season came in 2010, and Helton rebounded in '11, but his fantasy value for '13 remains tenuous.
For any longtime Rockies watcher, it is going to be incredibly odd to not see Helton in purple pinstripes during the 2014 season. Helton didn't exactly go out with a bang, but he had been a steady force in the Rockies' lineup since the late '90s. While it is a legitimate discussion as to who the best player in Rockies' history was -- Helton or Larry Walker -- most Rockies fans dismiss that debate altogether out of reverence to Helton. Whether he was the best or second-best player in team history isn't really all that important in the grand scheme of things, of course. What's important is that the team is going to have a heck of a time replacing him. Even with the end clearly in sight, the team did little to develop a first-base prospect worthy of succeeding the former University of Tennessee quarterback. Kyle Parker may be converted from outfield to first base thanks to the team's sudden glut of passable major league outfielders, but expectations for Parker -- who himself gave up a life as a college football quarterback to go pro with the Rockies -- are decidedly mild. No matter who takes his place in the lineup though, it will be hard to replace the little things that Helton did -- the 14-pitch at-bats, always being in the right place at the right time defensively, the way he scooped every throw out of the dirt, and of course, his flare for the dramatic. They don't make many like Todd Helton.
The Quick Opinion:
You probably shouldn't draft Helton this season, since he is, you know, retired now. But in honor of his many years of valuable fantasy production, if you have to use a major league player as a placeholder for a high school or college player that you've drafted but who isn't yet part of your league's database, I would humbly suggest #17 as that placeholder.
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Updated: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 3:38 AM ET
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