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Will Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame case be affected by the Coors Field factor?

Will Todd Helton's Hall of Fame case be affected by the Coors Field factor?

Rockies legend Todd Helton continues to make gains in Hall of Fame voting, to the point that it looks like he’ll be headed to Cooperstown one day. He started at just 16.5 percent but rose to 52 percent last year in his fourth try. He’s already gained double digits in votes on publicly-known ballots this time around, so he’s trending up again. 

With Helton’s case, there comes a bit of a stigma after having spent his entire career playing home games in hitter’s haven Coors Field. And we’re gonna get to that in a second. First, though, his actual numbers. 

Helton hit .316/.414/.539 in his career, good for a park-adjusted 133 OPS+. That means he was still 33 percent better at getting on base and hitting for power than the average hitter when adjusting for a hitter-friendly home. He racked up 2,519 hits, 592 doubles, 369 home runs, 1,406 RBI and 1,401 runs. He also walked 1,335 times compared to 1,175 strikeouts. An excellent fielder, he won three Gold Gloves and there’s an argument to be made he should have won several more. 

In JAWS, Helton ranks 15th among first basemen all-time. He’s ahead of the average Hall of Fame first baseman and individually tops Eddie Murray, Hank Greenberg, George Sisler, Bill Terry, Harmon Killebrew, David Ortiz, Tony Perez, Fred McGriff and a few others. 

Helton isn’t an inner-circle great like Lou Gehrig or Jimmie Foxx, but there’s room for more and with the JAWS system, Helton leads a good number of obvious Hall of Famers. 

Many want to dock Helton due to his home park. Just check out his career splits: 

Home: .345/.441/.607
Road: .287/.386/.469

Those are drastic, absolutely. It’s pretty jarring. As I pointed out in January 2020, Helton doesn’t fare terribly in road splits against the full career numbers of some Hall of Fame first basemen, though. Look: 

Helton on the road: .287/.386/.469
Eddie Murray: .287/.359/.476
Orlando Cepeda: .297/.350/.499
Harmon Killebrew: .256/.376/.509
Willie McCovey: .270/.374/.515  

Helton may fare worse away from home but those numbers certainly aren’t bad enough to disqualify him. No, instead the argument would be that his home stats boosted him into Hall of Fame territory. 

On that front, I think we’re smart enough to see the difference between artificial Coors Creations and superstars, no? And it’s not like there’s a flood of Rockies Hall of Famers in the recent past or even the future that should…

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