|Has Helton done enough to go to the Hall of Fame?|
The Baseball Hall of Fame is voted on by writer's who have covered Major League Baseball for at least 10 seasons for a newspaper, a magazine, or another recognized publication and are members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. So it would make sense that these guys know the game and who is good, right?
The reality is, many of these writers barely follow the game anymore. Many covered one team, and one division for their whole careers and never paid attention to the other teams, let alone the other league. Many of the voters used to cover baseball, but have long since left the game.
For a prime example, look no further than the three voting members from the state of Colorado. The obvious member is Tracy Ringolsby. A Hall-of-Famer himself, Ringolsby knows more about baseball than probably anyone on the planet. The second member from Colorado is Woody Paige. The polarizing figure knows a ton about football and rambles on and on about all sorts of subjects in his articles, but does he possess the knowledge to accurately give hall of fame votes? The third, and most baffling member located in Colorado is known other than Denver Post Broncos beat writer Mike Klis. Yes, that is correct, Klis has a vote in not only the hall of fame votes, but the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year voting.
All of that to say, sometimes the people voting don't even cover the sport, so how do they really know the depth of talent?
This is one reason why Todd Helton is going to have a tough time getting into Cooperstown. Despite putting up fantastic road numbers, despite being the arguably the best first basemen in the game for five straight years, and despite having a career .321 batting average despite his age catching up to him, Helton will be seen by many voting members as a product of altitude.
When Helton's name comes up five years after he calls it quits, many members will specifically not vote for him strictly because he called 20th & Blake home for all of those seasons.
Did Helton benefit from Coors Field? Absolutely. A doubles hitter like Helton perhaps benefits the most from the large gaps. However, Helton's numbers were no mirage.
So what will it take to get Helton into Cooperstown? Many of these writers have to dive deep into the pages of Baseball-Reference.com to refresh their memories on some of these players. Often times, they won't vote for a guy because he only had a few great years mixed in with just a few good ones. However, if they see that someone like Helton made an All-Star team while hitting over .300 in the twilight of his career, it may be just enough to get a forgotten guy like Helton over the hump.
It doesn't always matter why or how the guy made the All-Star team. Much like Gold Gloves, they carry weight when it is time for new contracts or building a Hall-of-Fame resume.
So how does Helton get into the All-Star game for the sixth time and the first time since 2004? Well, it certainly helps that during the offseason both Albert Pujols, perhaps the best player in the history of the game, as well as Prince Fielder, two perennial All-Stars, signed mega-deals with teams that play in the American League.
Suddenly, a league once jam-packed full of first base talent doesn't look so deep anymore.
That isn't to say that Helton will have an easy path to the mid-summer classic. He still will have to put up solid numbers and be the player that he is capable of being. However, if the National League carries three first basemen, which is typical, Helton will be competing against Joey Votto of the Reds, and then a slew of young first basemen, led by Gaby Sanchez in Florida and Freddie Freeman in Atlanta.
Give Helton another All-Star appearance, one years after the installation of the humidor at Coors Field, years after steroid testing, and when Helton is closing in on his 40's and it might just be enough to sway some of the casual BBWAA voters into realizing just how good his career has been. Couple that with Helton collecting his 2,500th hit, something that he is just 137 hits away from, and it might be enough to make him the first Colorado Rockie to make a speech in up-state New York.
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