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Todd Helton

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Todd Lynn Helton[1][2] (born August 20, 1973 in Knoxville, Tennessee)[1][3] is the starting first baseman for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball.

Helton is a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger, 4-time National League Player of the Month and 3-time Gold Glove winner. As of June 30, 2008, Helton has the third-highest career batting average of all active players at .328 (Albert Pujols #1 at .334 and Ichiro Suzuki #2 at .331), placing him fourth behind former San Diego Padres right fielder Tony Gwynn (.338), Pujols and Suzuki, among all players whose careers began after World War II.[4]

As of June 30, 2008, among all active players, Helton is third in batting average (.328), first in on-base percentage (.428), fifth in slugging percentage (.574), fifth in intentional walks (170) and eighth in doubles (471).

In addition, Helton holds Colorado Rockies club records for hits (1,956), home runs (310), doubles (471), walks (1,038), runs scored (1,141), RBI (1,116), on-base percentage (.428), games played (1,657), total bases (3,419) and other categories.

Before turning proEdit

High school yearsEdit

Helton attended Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee and was a letterman in football and baseball.[1] In football, he posted 2,772 total yards as quarterback.

In baseball, as a senior, Helton posted a .655 batting average and 12 home runs and was named the Regional Player of the Year. Baseball America also bestowed him with All-American honors for his senior season.[1]

University of TennesseeEdit

Helton received a scholarship from the University of Tennessee to play both football and baseball. He was named a Gatorade Player of the Year for football and baseball at Tennessee.[1] As a freshman and sophomore, he backed up Heath Shuler at quarterback. In his junior season, he was the back-up to Jerry Colquitt and ahead of Peyton Manning. After an injury to Colquitt, Helton got the starting spot only to face injury himself and be replaced by Manning. He did, however, win the Dick Howser Trophy as National Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year following his junior baseball season.

MLB careerEdit

Draft and debutEdit

Helton was drafted in the first round, eighth overall, in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies.[2] He was signed on July 1, 1995.[2] Helton spent the next couple of years playing for the class-A Asheville Tourists, AA New Haven Ravens and AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox before getting a crack at the major leagues. He made his major-league debut on August 2, 1997, in a 6-5 road loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates.[5][6] Helton started in left field and flied out in his first at-bat.[5] He recorded his first hit, a single, in his second at-bat off Francisco Cordova.[5] Helton also hit his first home run, a solo shot, that day off Marc Wilkins.[5]

1997-1999: Early careerEdit

During the 1997 season, Helton hit .280/.337/.484 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage), with five home runs, in 35 games played. When Rockies first baseman Andrés Galarraga went to the Atlanta Braves in 1998, Helton became the full-time starter at first base for Colorado during the 1998 season. The Rockies named Helton their club representative in 1998, the first time the team ever gave a rookie that role.[1] He hit .315/.380/.530, with 25 home runs and 97 RBI, in 152 games played. Helton led all major-league rookies in average (.315), homers (25), RBI (97), multi-hit games (49), total bases (281), slugging percentage (.530) and extra base hits (63).[7] He also led all National League rookies in runs (78), hits (167) and on-base percentage (.380). At the time, only Mike Piazza (35), David Justice (28) and Darryl Strawberry (26) had hit more homers as an NL rookie since 1972, and only Piazza had more RBI (112).[7] Helton finished second to Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs in the voting for National League Rookie of the Year.[7] The Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame named Helton its 1998 Professional Athlete of the Year.[1]

In 1999, Helton had a .320 batting average, .395 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage.[8] He also hit 35 home runs and 113 RBI, while drawing 68 walks. On June 19, 1999, in a 10-2 Rockies home win over the Florida Marlins, Helton hit for the cycle.[9][10] He fell short of hitting a second cycle on four different occasions during the 1999 season, which would have made him only the second player since 1900 (Babe Herman was the first to do so in 1931) to hit two cycles in one season.[9]

2000-2006: Mid-careerEdit

Helton enjoyed arguably his best season in 2000, leading the major leagues in batting average (.372), RBI (147), doubles (59), total bases (405), extra base hits (103), slugging percentage (.698) and OPS (1.162).[11][12] He led the National League in hits (216) and on-base percentage (.463). Helton hit a league-leading home batting average of .391 and placed third in the National League in road batting average (.353).[11] Helton's MLB-leading 103 extra base hits tied for the fourth most in MLB history and the second most in NL history.[11] His National League-leading numbers in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and batting average gave him the "percentage triple crown."[11] Helton became the second Rockies player (Larry Walker in 1999) to accomplish that feat.[11] Helton and Walker made the Rockies the first team in MLB history to record percentage triple crowns in consecutive seasons with different players.[11] Helton became only the fourth player in National League history to lead the NL in both batting average and RBI.[11] He became the first player in National League history and the fifth player in MLB history (Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg are the others) to have at least 200 hits, 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 100 extra base hits and 100 walks in one season.[11]

Helton was invited to his first career Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2000.[11] He also received National League Player of the Month honors for May and August. He finished fifth in voting for the MVP award. However, the Associated Press, The Sporting News, USA Baseball Alumni and Baseball Digest all named Helton the MLB Player of the Year.[11] Buck O'Neil and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum presented Helton with the Walter Fenner "Buck" Leonard Legacy Award.[11] Helton was also given the team-honored version of the Roberto Clemente Man of Year Award, for his community contributions to Eastern Tennessee.[11] Furthermore, he was the National League winner of the second annual Hank Aaron Award.[11] For all of his success, the Colorado Rockies rewarded Helton with a nine-year, $141.5 million dollar contract in April of 2001 that took effect in 2003.[13]

The following season, Helton posted a career-high 49 home runs (22 of them occurred away from Coors Field).[14] The 49 home runs tied teammate Larry Walker for the most home runs ever by a Colorado Rockies player in a single season.[14] Additionally, Helton averaged a .336 batting average, .432 on-base percentage and .685 slugging percentage.[14] He also had 105 extra base hits, making him the first player in MLB history to have at least 100 total extra base hits in back-to-back seasons.[14] Furthermore, Helton attained 402 total bases, making him only the fourth player in MLB history to do so in consecutive seasons (Chuck Klein, Gehrig and Foxx are the others).[14]

Helton appeared in his second consecutive All-Star game in 2001 - his first as a starter.[14] He won his first Gold Glove at first base and was once again a top candidate for MVP, but was overshadowed by Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

In 2002, Helton had a .329 batting average, 30 home runs, 109 RBI, 107 runs and 319 total bases.[15] He became the first player in Rockies history to score at least 100 runs in four consecutive seasons.[15] He was named Player of the Month for May, as he hit .347 with six doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 28 RBI during the month.[15] Helton was named to his third consecutive All-Star game - second straight as a starter.[15] He also received his second consecutive Gold Glove.[15]

2003 saw Helton involved in the closest NL batting race in history, as he hit .35849, while St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols finished first with a .35871 batting average.[16] During the season, Helton also had 33 home runs, 117 RBI, 135 runs, 49 doubles and five triples. He won his fourth Player of the Month honor during the month of April, as he hit .337 with six home runs, 27 RBI, 28 runs, 11 doubles and 24 walks.[16] He also appeared in his fourth consecutive All-Star game.

During the 2004 season, Helton again finished second in the NL batting race, as he hit .347, while San Francisco Giants left fielder Barry Bonds hit .362. Helton also had 32 homers and 96 RBI on the season. He became the first player in MLB history to hit at least .315 with 25 HR and 95 RBI in each of his first seven full seasons in the majors.[17] He became only the third player in MLB history to accomplish that feat during any seven-year stretch in a career (Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are the others).[17] He set a franchise record by hitting at least 30 home runs in six consecutive seasons.[17] Helton was named to his team-record fifth consecutive All-Star game and won his third Gold Glove during the season.[17]

In 2005, Helton spent time on the disabled list (July 26 - August 9) for the first time in his career with a strained left calf muscle.[18] He hit .320 with 20 home runs, 79 RBI, 92 runs and 45 doubles for the season. He was under 1.000 in OPS (finished with .979 OPS) for the first time since 1999.[8] Helton also wasn't named to the National League All-Star team for the first time since 1999. However, he did end up joining Gehrig and Bill Terry as the only first baseman in MLB history to have at least a .315 batting average in eight consecutive seasons.[18]

File:Helton at bat 2.JPG
The following season, Helton had to spend time on the disabled list again, this time from April 20 - May 4, as he was diagnosed with acute terminal ileitis.[19] He hit .302 with 15 home runs, 81 RBI, 40 doubles, 91 walks and a .404 on-base percentage for the season.[19] He ended the season below .900 in OPS (he had .880 OPS) for the first time since entering the league in 1997 when he only played 35 games that year.[8] Helton finished third on the Rockies roster in 2006 in runs (94), hits (165), doubles (40), total bases (260) and multi-hit games (42).[19]

2007-presentEdit

Helton's power and RBI production stayed relatively level to his previous year's stats during the 2007 season, as he managed 17 home runs and 91 RBI. Despite these numbers being below his career averages, Helton has so far kept up his string of seven consecutive seasons with an on-base percentage higher than .400, nine consecutive seasons with a batting average above .300, and has also been walked more times than he has struck out (a feat he has accomplished in seven of his first ten full seasons).[8]

Helton recorded his 1,000th career hit at Coors Field on June 20, 2007, in a 6-1 home win over the New York Yankees, becoming only the fifth active player to have 1,000 career hits in one ballpark.[20]

On September 9, 2007, in 4-2 home victory over the San Diego Padres, Helton hit his 35th double of the season. This made him the first and only player in MLB history to have hit 35 or more doubles in at least 10 consecutive seasons (1998 - 2007).[21][22]

Helton hit his 300th career home run on September 16, 2007, in a 13-0 home win over the Florida Marlins.[23][24] He became the first player to hit 300 home runs for the Colorado Rockies.

Helton made what was arguably the most pivotal play of the Rockies' 2007 season in the second game of a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 18, 2007. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes, Helton hit an emotional two-run walk-off home run off Dodgers closer Takashi Saito.[25] The home run kept the Rockies alive in the bid to win the wild card or National League West title. The Rockies eventually clinched the National League wild card, in a 9-8 extra innings victory over the San Diego Padres in a wild card tiebreaker game, allowing Helton to appear in the playoffs for the first time in his career.[26] Colorado went on to sweep the Philadelphia Phillies in three games of the National League Division Series. Helton hit a triple in the first pitch of his first career playoff at-bat in the opening game against the Phillies at Philadelphia.[27] The Rockies also swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in four games of the National League Championship Series, sending the Rockies on their first trip to the World Series in franchise history.[28]

Helton is currently in the sixth year of a nine-year, $141.5 million dollar contract and will be a free agent following the 2011 season. In August 2008, Helton was diagnosed with a degenerative back condition, putting his health and ability to continue play in question.[29]

Coors Field effectEdit

As of September 29, 2007, Helton has batted .367 at Coors Field and .295 on the road. He has averaged one home run per 15.5 at-bats at Coors Field versus one home run per 23.8 at-bats on the road. In a similar number of at-bats (2,849 at home vs. 2,807 on the road), Helton has 225 more RBI at Coors Field than on the road. He also has scored more runs (685 vs. 417), has a higher on base average (.465 vs. .394), slugging average (.662 vs. .502) and OPS (1.127 vs. .897). Helton also walks less, hits fewer doubles and triples, steals fewer bases, and strikes out more frequently on the road.[30] However, it should be noted that one of the reasons for any substantial differences in home and road splits for Rockies batters is that they have to make adjustments in how they see pitches away from Coors Field - particularly breaking balls, such as sliders and curve balls - since those pitches act differently at Coors Field than on the road.[31]

StatisticsEdit

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG TB SF SH HBP IBB GIDP
1997 COL 35 93 13 26 2 1 5 11 8 11 0 1 .280 .337 .484 45 0 0 0 0 1
1998 COL 152 530 78 167 37 1 25 97 53 54 3 3 .315 .380 .530 281 5 1 6 5 15
1999 COL 159 578 114 185 39 5 35 113 68 77 7 6 .320 .395 .587 339 4 0 6 6 14
2000 COL 160 580 138 216 59 2 42 147 103 61 5 3 .372 .463 .698 405 10 0 4 22 12
2001 COL 159 587 132 197 54 2 49 146 98 104 7 5 .336 .432 .685 402 5 1 5 15 14
2002 COL 156 553 107 182 39 4 30 109 99 91 5 1 .329 .429 .577 319 10 0 5 21 10
2003 COL 160 583 135 209 49 5 33 117 111 72 0 4 .358 .458 .630 367 7 0 2 21 19
2004 COL 154 547 115 190 49 2 32 96 127 72 3 0 .347 .469 .620 339 6 0 3 19 12
2005 COL 144 509 92 163 45 2 20 79 106 80 3 0 .320 .445 .534 272 1 1 9 22 14
2006 COL 145 546 94 165 40 5 15 81 91 64 3 2 .302 .404 .476 260 6 0 6 15 10
2007 COL 154 557 86 178 42 2 17 91 116 74 0 1 .320 .434 .494 275 7 0 2 16 15
2008 COL 83 299 39 79 16 0 7 29 61 50 0 0 .264 .391 .388 116 0 0 1 8 9
Totals: 1,661 5,962 1,143 1,957 471 31 310 1,117 1,041 810 36 26 .328 .428 .574 3,420 61 3 49 170 146

PostseasonEdit

Year Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS BA OBP SLG TB SF SH HBP IBB GIDP
2007 COL 11 41 6 9 2 1 0 2 5 9 0 0 .220 .298 .317 13 1 0 0 0 0
Totals: 11 41 6 9 2 1 0 2 5 9 0 0 .220 .298 .317 13 1 0 0 0 0

QuotesEdit

I don't try to be a Christian to be a better baseball player. I try to be a Christian to be a better person and father. I struggle with it every day, like everyone else in the world. I want to be a better person, like everybody else. We're dirtbags, like 99 percent of the world. Maybe worse, because we are baseball players. Some guys are Christians and some guys aren't.[32]

— when discussing the 2006 controversy over Christian rules within the Rockies organization.

I have no idea; I have no idea how we just won that ballgame.[2]

— when asked on ESPN how the Rockies managed to beat the San Diego Padres in the 2007 National League wild card tie-breaker game using 10 pitchers.

You know, if Peyton played first base, he'd be my backup.[33]

— after being asked about being the backup quarterback of Peyton Manning while attending the University of Tennessee.

AccomplishmentsEdit

  • 5-time All-Star (2000-2004)
  • 4-time Silver Slugger (2000-2003, most out of all MLB first basemen)
  • 4-time National League Player of the Month (May 2000, August 2000, May 2002, April 2003)
  • 3-time National League Gold Glove winner (2001, 2002, 2004)
  • 2-time Colorado Rockies-honored Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award (2000, 2002)
  • National League Batting Champion (2000)
  • National League Slugging Percentage leader (2000)
  • National League RBI leader (2000)
  • National League Doubles leader (2000, Helton hit 59 doubles during the season, which tied Chuck Klein for the third-highest single-season doubles total in NL history.)
  • National League Hits leader (2000)
  • National League On-Base Percentage leader (2000, 2005, 2007)
  • National League Total Bases leader (2000)
  • National League Extra Base Hits leader (2000)
  • Dick Howser Trophy (Best National College Baseball Player, 1995)
  • The Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award (1998)
  • Topps All-Star Rookie Team (1998)
  • Baseball Digest All-Star Rookie Team (1998)
  • Hit for the cycle (June 19, 1999)
  • Walter Fenner "Buck" Leonard Legacy Award (2000)
  • National League Hank Aaron Award (2000)
  • Percentage triple crown (2000)
  • The Associated Press Major League Baseball All-Star Team (2000)
  • The Associated Press Major League Baseball Player of the Year (2000)
  • Baseball Digest Major League Baseball Player of the Year (2000)
  • USA Baseball Alumni Player of the Year (2000)
  • The Sporting News National League Player of the Year (2000)
  • No. 10 in Major League Baseball history in On-base percentage (.430)
  • Helton is the only player in MLB history to have 100-plus extra base hits in consecutive seasons: 103 in 2000, and 105 in 2001.[14] The only others to do it twice in their careers, but not consecutively, were Lou Gehrig [1927 (117), 1930 (100)] and Chuck Klein [1930 (107), 1932 (103)].
  • Helton is one of only four players in MLB history (Klein in 1929 and 1930, Jimmie Foxx in 1932 and 1933, along with Gehrig in 1930 and 1931) to have reached 400 total bases in consecutive seasons (405 in 2000, 402 in 2001).[14] Gehrig reached 400 total bases in four seasons (1927, 1930, 1931, 1934), and Klein did so once more (1932). The other players to reach 400 total bases twice in a career, but not consecutively, were Babe Ruth (1921, 1927), Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1929) and Sammy Sosa (1998, 2001).
  • Helton is one of only five players in MLB history (the first ever in the National League) to have at least 200 hits, 40 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 runs, 100 extra-base hits and 100 walks in one season (2000).[11] The others to do so were Babe Ruth (1921), Lou Gehrig (1927, 1930), Jimmie Foxx (1932) and Hank Greenberg (1937).
  • Helton is one of only three first baseman in MLB history (Gehrig and Bill Terry are the others) to have at least a .315 batting average in eight consecutive seasons (1998-2005).[18]
  • Among active players with at least 4,000 at bats, Helton is currently: second in batting average (.3316) to Ichiro Suzuki (.333), with Albert Pujols (.3315) nipping at Helton's heels, second (10th all-time) in on-base percentage [(.430), behind Barry Bonds (.445)], fourth (10th all-time) in slugging percentage [(.583), behind Pujols (.620), Bonds (.607) and Manny Ramírez (.593)] and third (eighth all-time) in on-base plus slugging [(1.0138), behind Bonds (1.0512) and Pujols (1.0402)].
  • Colorado Rockies career leader in on-base percentage (.430), games played (1,578), at bats (5,663), plate appearances (6,758), runs (1,104), hits (1,878), total bases (3,304), doubles (455), home runs (303), RBI (1,087), walks (980), singles (1,089), runs created (1,459), extra-base hits (789), times on base (2,906), sacrifice flies (61) and intentional walks (162).
  • Hit 3 home runs against the Montreal Expos on May 1, 2000 and against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 29, 2003.
  • Only player in MLB history to hit 35 or more doubles in at least 10 consecutive seasons (1998 - 2007).

Personal lifeEdit

Helton's jersey number, 17, is a tribute to former Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace.[34] Incidentally, Grace wore 17 because former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez wore 17. Hernandez wore 17 with the Mets because he could not wear number 37, his number with the St. Louis Cardinals, since 37 was retired in honor of former player/manager Casey Stengel. Hernandez wore both 37 and 17 to honor former New York Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle, whose number was 7.

Helton and his family - wife Christy and daughter Tierney Faith (born September 24, 2002) - reside in Brighton, Colorado.[1]

As stated earlier, Helton was the backup quarterback to Peyton Manning, while at the University of Tennessee. Coincidentally, his current Rockies teammate, Seth Smith, was the backup to Manning's younger brother, Eli Manning, while at the University of Mississippi. Furthermore, former Tennessee offensive coordinator and current Duke University head coach David Cutcliffe was Helton's quarterback coach at Tennessee and Smith's head coach at Ole Miss.[35]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Todd Helton Statistics. Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-19.
  3. ESPN - Todd Helton Stats, News, Photos - Colorado Rockies - MLB Baseball. ESPN.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-19.
  4. All-Time Batting Average Leaders (Top 50). Major League Baseball. Retrieved on 2008-07-01.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  6. August 2, 1997 Colorado Rockies at Pittsburgh Pirates Box Score and Play by Play - Baseball-Reference.com
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 ESPN - Todd Helton Stats, News, Photos - Colorado Rockies
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  10. June 19, 1999 Florida Marlins at Colorado Rockies Box Score and Play by Play - Baseball-Reference.com
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  12. ESPN - MLB Baseball Batting Statistics and League Leaders - Major League Baseball
  13. RINGOLSBY: Team-by-team report : Rockies : The Rocky Mountain News
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: Team: Player Information : Biography and Career Highlights
  20. ESPN - Yankees vs. Rockies - Recap - June 20, 2007
  21. ESPN - Padres vs. Rockies - Recap - September 09, 2007
  22. Helton hammers out his place in history - The Denver Post
  23. ESPN - Marlins vs. Rockies - Recap - September 16, 2007
  24. The Official Site of The Colorado Rockies: News: Colorado Rockies News
  25. ESPN - Dodgers vs. Rockies - Recap - September 18, 2007
  26. ESPN - Padres vs. Rockies - Recap - October 01, 2007
  27. ESPN - Rockies vs. Phillies - Recap - October 03, 2007
  28. ESPN - Diamondbacks vs. Rockies - Recap - October 15, 2007
  29. [1]
  30. Todd Helton's career split stats. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved on September 30, 2007.
  31. ESPN - Coors Field a truly unique environment - MLB
  32. Rockies: Hey, we aren't the angels : Rockies : The Rocky Mountain News
  33. The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: Major League Baseball News
  34. BASEBALL; The Greatest Player Nobody Knows - New York Times
  35. Lindsey Korsick (July 26, 2007). Player Profile - Seth Smith. Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Retrieved on 2007-10-19.

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Jerry Colquitt
Tennessee Volunteers
Starting Quarterbacks
1994
Succeeded by:
Peyton Manning

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