Today Todd Helton opted to have surgery on his hip and will miss the rest of the 2012 season. Helton does plan on playing in 2013.
Not to pile on an already awful 2012 season but…
According to Baseball-Reference.com of all the first basemen in baseball with at least 250 plate appearances only Ike Davis, Casey Kotchman, Ty Wigginton, Juan Rivera, James Loney and Justin Smoak have contributed less to their teams offensively in 2012 than Todd Helton. Helton has an offensive WAR of -0.2 which is 23rd out of 29 players with at least 250 plate appearances while mainly playing first base.
While Helton’s .238 average is good for 21st out of those same 29 players his on-base percentage of .343 ranks him 13th. His .400 slugging percentage ranks him 18th. Helton’s career triple slash is .320/.419/.545 and you can see his numbers this year and far, far below his past performance. When your slugging is below your career on-base it is not a good season.
Helton isn’t a power hitter anymore but his 24 extra-base hits are good for 22nd out of 29. In all fairness to Helton the guys he is ahead of him have played more games (31 more games in Loney’s case) than Helton. If Helton had another 30 games, even at his woeful pace in 2012, he would jump into the top 15 in baseball among first basemen in extra-base hits.
Helton isn’t a top first baseman anymore and he will not ever be again. The cold hard truth of sports and life. The Rockies are a better team without him right now and probably will be next year without him, too. According to BR.com Helton has not been worth anything this year with literally a WAR of 0.0. Fangraphs.com is a little more kind to Helton and says he has been worth a half win in 2012.
With Helton’s career obviously coming to a painful close; I will leave you with this WAR graph on Helton’s possible Hall of Fame candidacy. It isn’t fair to compare Helton to the true all-time greats who have played first base like Gehrig, Foxx, McCovey or Murray, but what if we compare him to a few fringe HOF first basemen currently in the Hall? Guys like Mize, Perez and Cepeda? I won’t compare to the ridiculous choices like Chance, Bottomly or Terry, but how about three pretty darn good first basemen?
Helton is going to get penalized for his home/road splits and the fact, that in a home run era and in a home run park, he didn’t get close to 400 bombs when it seems 500 isn’t even the floor requirement anymore. I say no to his Hall of Fame application but I know many Rockies fans feel otherwise.
The work of Bill Geivett?
Since Geivett took over this new role as GM of the Major League team…or whatever his title…the Rockies have started Dexter Fowler in the third spot in the line three out of four games (Helton was batting third yesterday). With Josh Rutledge batting second and Carlos Gonzalez fourth the Rockies have a pretty good top of the order even if Eric Young Jr. bats leadoff (despite his poor OBP I do like him batting first because even when he gets out this year it seems to be exciting).
The team still doesn’t have a guy great at protecting CarGo by batting fifth, but Jordan Pacheco does do one thing well: hit the baseball. He rarely walks and doesn’t strike out a bunch so if anything opposing pitchers have a concern with him following CarGo: Pacheco will put the ball in play and with the ball in play anything can happen.
If this is the work of Geivett, and I find it really hard to believe it has Jim Tracy’s fingerprints on it, then this has been a positive move for the team already.