In April, they seemed unbeatable, starting 11-2 and finishing the first month at 17-8. Colorado was a mile higher than any other club in baseball.
In May though, the wheels fell off and nearly nothing went right for the Rockies as they plummeted back to earth at 8-21. It was one of their worst months in the team’s history.
Once June rolled around, Colorado got back on track, they won four series and split another one to end the month one game over .500 (14-13).
And July has been a microcosm of the entire year; the Rockies blew out the Royals (9-0) only to have Kansas City embarrass them two days later (16-8) which sent Colorado on a five-game losing streak as the Braves beat the Rox in a variety of ways, only to have Colorado squeak out two victories in Washington before the break.
Now, at the mid-way point in the season, the Rockies sit at five games under .500 (43-48), 8.5 games back of the first place Giants of the NL West that reside in San Francisco. It’s a far cry from where fans and the players themselves thought they would be in mid-July as the team faces an uphill climb that makes Mount Evans look like a mole hill.
In a season that’s been marred with more injuries than anyone associated with the Rockies wants to count, a season in which nearly 20 different infielders (and 10 starting pitchers) have taken the diamond at Coors Field, one player has been rock-solid for the Rox—Todd Helton.
Last year, Helton seemed broken; his back simply wouldn’t allow him to play the game he loves and the Toddfather looked more like a grandfather.
2010 was Helton’s worst season as a professional baseball player; his .256 batting average and .362 OBP were his lowest marks ever, while his eight home runs and 18 doubles were second-worst in his 15-year career in Colorado.
It seemed all over for the greatest Rockies player to ever wear the purple pinstripes, he was fading faster than the sun falling behind massive mountains.
But Helton was far from finished being the cornerstone of the Rox infield and his 2011 season has been vintage Toddfather playing at his best.
Helton’s back is better and he’s back to hitting the ball consistently and with some power. His .321 batting average and .400 OBP are close to career averages (and both are team-leading) while his 41 RBI and 10 HR are already higher marks than he could compile all of last season. And Helton is on pace to pass 30 doubles, 70 runs, and 150 hits this season—simply stated, Todd Helton is enjoying a vintage season.
But are you watching?
Sure, it can be difficult to watch a team as inconsistent as these Rockies, a team that finds ways to lose instead of ways to win, but if nothing else, you need to be watching these Rockies because this could be Helton’s last hurrah.
Why does it matter?
Todd Helton has given everything he’s ever had to the Rockies, he’s stuck with the team through good times too few and bad times too numerous, opting to stay true to Colorado rather than heading to a legitimate contender and a chance at a World Series win.
Helton has been arguably the best defensive first baseman in the game for the last decade and a half, picking more baseballs out of the dirt than one could care to count, saving runs and even winning games with his glove many times.
Todd Helton is a quiet leader, a statuesque man that leads by example, a unique throwback type baseball player that does everything his team needs from him on the field while not needing all the attention and accolades off it.
Put it this way; if the Rockies were lucky enough to have eight Todd Heltons take the field for them every game, they’d have the most humble, most hard-working, most patient team in the majors, filled with good guys that parents would be happy to have their sons and daughters look up to.
Think of it this way; in sports, when a guy suits up and plays for your team every day for 15 years he becomes an afterthought, we all expect him to be there and we end up taking him for granted.
Only after he’s retired do we realize how much we miss his play, his leadership, his being the rock of the team that is a steadying and calming force.
Well Rockies fans, before the Toddfather retires (soon), we have the chance to take in all that is great about the player, an opportunity to absorb his amazing ability to play baseball at a back-breakingly high level—we can consciously take in Todd Helton, the greatest Rockie to ever live, in the present rather than only admiring him as a past legend.
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