COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — "Maybe next year" is an all too common lament for Colorado Rockies fans. It now has an added meaning. Maybe next year will be the year Todd Helton gets his call to join the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Vying to become just the second Colorado Rockies player to be elected to the Hall, first baseman Todd Helton was 11 votes short of being selected, with 72.2% of voters including him on their ballots. He needed 75% to make it to Cooperstown.
The sole Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) inductee in this year's class was third baseman Scott Rolen, who garnered 76.3% of votes. Rolen was elected in his sixth year on the ballot. He batted .281 with 1,287 runs batted in, 1,211 runs and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .854 combined with the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.
Rolen will join former Braves' and Blue Jays' left-handed first baseman Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff in the HOF Class of 2023. McGriff was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee (for senior players).
The Hall of Fame vote totals for all eligible players (389 ballots cast):
- Scott Rolen 297 (76.3%)
- Todd Helton 281 (72.2%)
- Billy Wagner 265 (68.1%)
- Andruw Jones 226 (58.1%)
- Gary Sheffield 214 (55.0%)
- Carlos Beltrán 181 (46.5%)
- Jeff Kent 181 (46.5%)
- Álex Rodríguez 139 (35.7%)
- Manny Ramírez 129 (33.2%)
- Omar Vizquel 76 (19.5%)
- Andy Pettitte 66 (17%)
- Bobby Abreu 60 (15.4%)
- Jimmy Rollins 50 (12.9%)
- Mark Buehrle 42 (10.8%)
- Francisco Rodríguez 42 (10.8%)
- Torii Hunter 27 (6.9%)
- Bronson Arroyo 1 (0.3%)
- R.A. Dickey 1 (0.3%)
- John Lackey 1 (0.3%)
- Mike Napoli 1 (0.3%)
- Huston Street 1 (0.3%)
- Matt Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta, Jered Weaver, Jayson Werth: 0
This was Helton's fifth year on the Hall of Fame ballot. His vote totals have steadily risen since his first appearance on the 2019 ballot, when he garnered 16.5% of votes. He received 29.2% of votes in 2020, 44.9% in 2021 and 52% last year.
The Rockies great played his entire 17-year career at the corner of 20th and Blake streets. Helton finished his career with 2,519 hits, 592 doubles, 369 homers, 1,406 RBIs and a .316 batting average in 17 seasons, all with the Rockies. He also won three Gold Gloves as a first baseman. Helton ranks 20th all-time in doubles. The only eligible players with more doubles and not in the Hall of Fame are Pete Rose (who is not eligible for the HOF), Barry Bonds and Luis Gonzalez.
In a remarkable six-season stretch from 1999-2004, Helton averaged .344 with 37 homers and 121 RBIs. His best single season was 2000 when he flirted with becoming the first hitter to bat .400 since Ted Williams in 1941. Hitting .395 entering the month of September, Helton finished with a major league-best .372 average while also leading the majors with 147 RBIs and 59 doubles to go along with 42 home runs.
Here are some of Helton's accolades:
- Five-time All-Star
- Four-time Silver Slugger
- Three-time Gold Glove winner
- 1998 NL Rookie of Year runner-up
- Won the NL batting title in 2000
- Lead MLB in RBI in 2000
Here are a few of the Rockies' records he still holds:
- Extra-base hits
- Total bases
Helton would have joined Larry Walker as the Rockies' only Hall of Famers. Walker was enshrined into the Hall in 2020.
Helton's jersey #17 was retired on Aug. 17, 2014, before a sold out crowd at Coors Field.
The Rockies selected Helton out of the University of Tennessee in 1995. Helton was a two-sport star while attending UT. He played quarterback for the Volunteers for three years. He backed up Heath Shuler his freshman and sophomore years, and was the backup at the start of his junior year. He got a chance to start after UT's starter, Jerry Colquitt, tore knee ligaments in the Vols' season opener.
Three weeks later, Helton suffered his own knee injury and was replaced by a true freshman named Peyton Manning (whatever happened to that Manning guy?).
Helton excelled on the baseball diamond while in college. He was a two-time 1st Team All-American and helped lead the Vols to three-straight SEC championships. Helton won the Dick Howser Trophy in 1995, which is given to the best player in college baseball.
The Rockies drafted Helton in the first round, eighth overall in 1995. He spent two years in the minors and made his Major League debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 2, 1997. He went 2-4 with a single and homer in that game.
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