Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton Homers Team To Victory at Wrigley

David MartinAnalyst IApril 26, 2011

DENVER, CO - APRIL 20:  First baseman Todd Helton #17 of the Colorado Rockies breaks his bat as he takes an at bat against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on April 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The lineup seemed like a blast from the past, featuring Todd Helton in the three-hole.

The way Helton played, no one was questioning Jim Tracy's decision to put the grizzly veteran in that spot.

Helton delivered for the Rockies, hitting not one, but two home runs, giving the Rockies a bump that carried them to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs and a series win, with hopes of going home with yet another road sweep.

It was the first time since 2007 that Helton had homered twice in the same game.

The focus of the offseason for the Rockies was the long-term deals that the club handed to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Those moves solidified the core of the Rockies lineup for years to come.

However, the key to a medium-market team's success goes well beyond 2-star players.
If the Rockies want to succeed, they are going to have to have roll players contribute in big ways.

For the Rockies, it is nice to have a roll player like Helton, a three-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glover and a former batting champion. Despite his age, Helton is showing that if his back is healthy, there is no reason to suspect that he can't resemble player who was once the most feared hitter in the National League West.

The key for Helton is going to be allowing himself to keep his surgically-repaired back in playing condition.
No one questions his work ethic or drive, but in the past, Helton has been able to talk his way into a lineup when he was supposed to be on the bench staying fresh.

The reality for Helton and the Rockies is that they don't need a halfway-healthy No. 17. They need a 100 percent healthy Helton. That means that he needs to get regular rest, allowing Ty Wigginton or Jason Giambi to man first base more frequently than has been the case in the last few years.

His bat may not have the power that it did when he was 27 years old, but his eye and approach at the plate is the same. He can still hit a ball up the middle or in the gap in left-center as well as anyone, as long as he is not sacrificing his mechanics at the plate due to his sore back.

If Helton can hit .300 with a consistent amount of doubles, he—not the two young superstars—may be the key to a successful Colorado Rockies season.

With another win on Wednesday afternoon, the Rockies have a chance to head back to Coors Field with their second winning road trip of the 2011 season.
How long did it take the club to be able to boast that accomplishment in 2010? They never did it. Throughout 2010, the Rockies had only one winning road trip.

The critics will still say that the Rockies haven't been beating tough opponents. They will say that it will mean something when they are able to go into San Francisco and Los Angeles, two places where they have historically been horrible, and find ways to win.

However, the fact that the opponents have been weak doesn't discredit what these Rockies have done. The accomplishment is not simply winning games, the accomplishment is winning games in which they lost in years past.

Despite being a competitive team for the last few years, the Rockies struggled to beat anyone on the road, whether they were contenders or not. They found ways to look overmatched and they made average pitchers look like they should be receiving Cy Young votes at the conclusion of the season.

The fact that this team is winning games that they have lost in the past, and not just winning a few here and there, but winning frequently, is a good sign for fans hoping that the club that perennially struggles in April and on the road, has found a way to turn the corner.

For more on the Rockies, visit

This article is also featured on