Preview: Game #148, Diamondbacks vs. Rockies

Christian Petersen

This will be an icon's last game at Chase Field this afternoon. Todd Helton will not trouble the Diamondbacks any more after this month.

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Jhoulys Chacin
RHP, 13-8, 3.09
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Randall Delgado
RHP, 4-6, 4.04

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. Adam Eaton, CF
  2. Aaron Hill, 2B
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Martin Prado, LF
  5. Miguel Montero, C
  6. Matt Davidson, 3B
  7. Gerardo Parra, RF
  8. Chris Owings, SS
  9. Randall Delgado, P

Todd Helton announced yesterday that he would be retiring at the end of the 2013 season. Got to respect his decision to wait until there's just a couple of weeks left to make the announcement, rather than turning his last season into the Helton Farewell Tour 2013. That - and I'm particularly looking at you, Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera - seems a rather egotistical way of doing things, saying "Look at meeeee! Last chance! I won't be heeeere again!" You can certainly make a case that you can let team-mates and the organization know, so they can plan accordingly. But all the resulting hoopla we've seen this year with Rivera seems pretty off-putting to me.

Helton was certainly good. Very good. Indeed, for half a decade he was arguably the best first-baseman in the game. Over the five-year period from 2000 through 2004, his .349 batting average was the highest in baseball, while his OPS was second in the majors to Barry Bonds. And even though Coors obviously played into that [we'll discuss this more in a moment], his park-adjusted OPS+ was still fifth-best, behind Bonds, Jason Giambi, Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez. In that period, he went 5-for-5 in All-Star appearances, while winning four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.

And, of course, there's playing the entire career for one team, which is something you really don't see much of these days, especially for a mid-market franchise like the Rockies. Not that this was exactly some kind of altruistic act by Helton: according to B-R.com, he earned over $160 million from Colorado since making his debut for them back in 1997. The question now is, will his number get him into the Hall of Fame? Even though his career overlapped the height of the steroid era, there has never been even a whisper about Helton. Let's face it: he didn't need steroids, he had a legal equivalent, playing at Coors Field.

It is a perfectly legitimate argument to wonder whether that inflated his numbers excessively. Over his career so far, here are the splits:

Split G PA AB R H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Home 1132 4801 4000 867 1381 225 850 709 505 .345 .442 .607 1.048
Away 1103 4600 3913 527 1124 142 547 624 657 .287 .386 .470 .856

His home numbers are just insane, but the road ones are pretty mediocre by Cooperstown standards. As a yardstick, that .856 OPS on the road is exactly the same as Luis Gonzalez had in his career, and much though I love Gonzo, I don't see him having to write an induction speech any time soon. So, for me, Helton goes into the Hall of Very Good, but comes up short of being worthy of the full enchilada. That's no shame, and I look forward to not having to Fear the Beard coming to the plate any longer.

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