Once upon a time, Todd Helton was a fantasy monster and one of the very best players in the world. His 2000-2004 seasons were off-the-charts great — .349/.450/.643 with a .452 wOBA in 3,448 PA — and it wasn’t just Coors Field because a ton of other players played there as well, and none of ‘em hit like that. Age and injuries have taken their toll on the greatest player in Rockies’ history, but Helton has remained productive in recent years and is currently a nice little buy-low candidate for fantasy owners.
The 38-year-old first baseman is currently sitting on a fun, early-season .222/.300/.481 batting line through 60 plate appearances. He’s getting regular rest — usually in day games after night games — and eight of his dozen hits have done for extra bases. One of his three homers came in Coors, the other two in the launching pad for left-handers known as Miller Park. Helton is still drawing a ton of walks (10.0%), but he’s going to have to get his batting average out of the dumpster to post his typically gaudy OBP.
One of the reasons I’m optimistic about Helton going forward is that batting average, or rather the expectation that it will improve over time. The back injuries cut down on his fly ball rate years ago, but aside from one outlier in 2010, his batted ball profile has remained relatively static over the last half-decade…
Helton posted a .329 BABIP from 2007-2011, which is when his batted ball profile started to level off. Right now he’s sitting on a .205 BABIP, which is so hilariously low that even if he’s about to fall off the proverbial cliff, he would still be in line for some kind of BABIP and batting average correction. It might take a little longer than usual given his regular rest, but very few players are legitimately that bad. Even at his age, Helton is not one of them.
Of course, we’re still not talking about a guy you want starting at first base on your fantasy team. Helton is best used as an injury fill-in who won’t kill your rate stats or a utility/corner infield spot option in deeper leagues. He’s owned in just 14% of Yahoo! leagues and I think there’s a good chance to steal a very good month or two worth of production if you check the daily lineups religiously and aren’t blocking a better player.