Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton has quietly been going about his business this year, what’s expected to be his last in the Major Leagues. In fact, he’s been so quiet about things – aside from an incident this past Spring it’s just as he has for much of his 17 year career, all of which he’s spent in Colorado – that few have noticed outside the Rockies that this will be his final season. There’s been no farewell tour. Not celebration in each opposing city. Just Helton, manning first base and doing what he does best.
Helton came to the plate in the 7th inning of Sunday’s game, with no outs and none on after Michael Cuddyer led off the inning with a solo home run. He’d foul off a handful of pitches before working the count full, only to line the ball down the left field line. Hustling around first, Helton just barely got into second base safely. The double marked the 2,500th hit of his career, making him the 96th player in MLB history to reach such a milestone. The crowd at Coors Field gave Helton a resounding ovation before the game could continue.
Batting .252/.321/.407 in 355 PA on the season, Helton isn’t the same feared hitter that he once was in the middle of the Rockies lineup. Age has started to slow his bat down and he hasn’t produced at the same power level since the 2007 season, but Helton is still as professional a bat as you could have worked into the mix. For his career he’s a .317/.415/.540 hitter. He’s hit 365 HR and 584 doubles (just two shy of moving into 16th all time). He’s driven in nearly 1,400 runs (1,393 RBI). Add in three Gold Glove Awards, four Silver Sluggers, and five All Star Game appearances and it’s easy to see why Helton is likely a future Hall of Famer.
For now he’s content just being a reliable cog for a team stuck in third place, as his own retirement quickly approaches.