Colorado Rockies

Todd Helton Hopes To See a Brighter Season

DENVER - APRIL 09:  Todd Helton #17 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the San Diego Padres during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 7-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Daniel DaytonContributor IJune 8, 2010

It's no secret that the Todd Helton of 2010 is not the same Todd Helton who has put up Hall of Fame numbers over his career.

Helton has been in a slump so far this year., hitting a meagre .246/.364/.316/.680.  Even odder, Helton is batting .197/.341/.227/.569 at home in Coors Field this year, and .276/.379/.371/.750 on the road. 

Anyone that follows the Rockies knows that the team batting falls off on the road, as evidenced by their last six-game road trip in which the Rockies as a team batted under .200.  Coors Field is still a "hitters park" though not as much as it was before they added the humidor to store the baseballs.

Want another odd split for Helton in 2010? Against left-handed pitchers, Todd has a split of 288/.381/.346/.727 in 2010 and against right-handed pitchers, the left-handed batting Helton has put up a line of only .227/.357/.303/.659. 

Helton has always batted well against left-handed pitchers. Heck, he's hit every pitcher well in his career as his career line is 326/.426/.560/.986, and his 518 career doubles puts him near the top of active players and in the top 50 all time.

Rockies fans have been wringing their hands over Helton's performance. It's obvious that he's aging. He'll be 37 in August; 37-year-old hitters do slow down, that's normal.

Many fans and pundits have wondered what the Rockies should do with him.  Should the Rockies bench him? Should the Rockies move him out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order?

I argued for a long time that the No. 3 hole was OK for Helton, as he still had a good OBP and he can still wear out a pitcher by extending at-bats for several pitches.  But the No. 3 hole should go to one of the better hitters on the team, and that's not Helton anymore.  Helton should be moved down in the order; on Monday he was, batting sixth in the lineup.    

The real news about Helton on Monday wasn't that he moved to the sixth spot, however.  It was that he got contacts! According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, Helton, whose vision was 20-15, went and got contacts! 

"I needed contacts, that's all I know," said Helton. "It (his level of correction) wasn't bad. It's going to take some adjusting to them, I know that. So we'll see." (Really, "we'll see?" That's punny!)

Said Helton in the Post article, when asked if he felt getting contacts was a significant step: "Could be. I wasn't seeing the ball. It was either my eyes or my head. I didn't know if there was anything wrong. It was just one of those things were I wanted to make sure."

I'm not sure if contacts and vision are the issues. Todd is aging. It happens to all of us, and the best of us, even future Hall of Famers like Todd Helton. But here's to hoping that Helton does get a bounce with the contacts, and starts seeing the ball (and hitting the ball).

If the Rockies are to make a run in the National League West, they need a productive first baseman. They need Todd Helton to be more than replacement level. (His WAR for 2010 is exactly 0.0.) I'm not saying he has to match his career numbers, that's not realistic at this point in his career, but it isn't unfair to expect some improvement from such a high calibre player.

Here's to hoping that contacts help him.

In case you were wondering how those contacts helped, on Monday night he went 0-for-3 with three left on base.  He did have an RBI.


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