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Monday, August 18, 2014

Ringolsby: Helton’s numbers stack up against the best

Percy Helton having a visor is one thing…Todd Helton having an adviser is another.

Hall of Fame type numbers?

“Obviously, that would be a great honor, but there’s nothing I can do about that,” he said. “You have the vote.”

Just one, he was told.

“Well,” he said with a smile, “put in a good word for me.”

...And here’s something else to consider.

As dominant as he was at Coors Field, Helton outplayed the bulk of Hall of Famers on the road.

There are 116 position players in the Hall of Fame who had at least 4,000 plate appearances since 1912, which is how far back the home-road splits extend for Stats Inc. Among those 116 position players:

• Helton’s .287 road batting average is higher than 45.

• Helton’s .386 road on-base percentage is higher than 84.

• Helton’s .469 road slugging percentage is higher than 74.

• And Helton’s .855 road OPS is higher than 78.

And Helton even ranks well among the smaller group of 21 Hall of Fame first basemen who have had at least 4,000 plate appearances since 1912.

Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Gehrig, Billy Terry and Jimmie Foxx are the only ones who are ahead of Helton on the road in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

Helton has higher numbers in all four categories than Ernie Banks, Jim Bottomley and Tony Perez.

He has a higher road on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS than Rod Carew and George Kelly.

And a higher on-base percentage, average and OPS than Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey and Eddie Murray.

Not that Helton has ever paid that much attention.

Repoz Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:12 AM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof, rockies

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4773436)
What are era adjustments?
   2. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4773447)
There are 116 position players in the Hall of Fame who had at least 4,000 plate appearances since 1912, which is how far back the home-road splits extend for Stats Inc. Among those 116 position players:

• Helton’s .287 road batting average is higher than 45.

• Helton’s .386 road on-base percentage is higher than 84.

• Helton’s .469 road slugging percentage is higher than 74.

• And Helton’s .855 road OPS is higher than 78.



How many of the 116 position players are middle infielders or center fielders? I'd ask about third basemen, but we all know there are next to none in the Hall.

I'd probably vote for Helton myself, but these raw numbers shouldn't convince anyone to get on the bandwagon.
   3. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4773456)
Context. C'mon, ballfan.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4773504)
I realize that "road stats = ballpark-independent value" seems to make sense to people, and it's easy to just go with it and try to make it work for your point. But, the premise is incorrect, so that temptation should be resisted. If the Coors environment makes each run 30% less valuable, then Helton's run creation in home games led to 30% fewer wins than it looks like, and you're done. It doesn't matter what his specific home/road splits are.
   5. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4773509)
Well, it is possible that his road numbers have to be adjusted because of coming down from the Rocky Mountain high but I don't know if I totally believe in it yet.
   6. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4773527)
Todd Helton is Adam LaRoche at altitude.
   7. Ron J2 Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4773533)
#5 If you're comparing him to active players, they all have some Coors in their road numbers. And if you're comparing him to past players, Helton got to play through sillyball.

As everybody is aware, raw road numbers are a bad way to talk about a Colorado player, and raw numbers are useless for the purposes of comparing players in different offensive contexts.

And yeah, he out-hit most HOF SS and 2B. Not a HOF case.

What is a viable HOF case is to note that he had a long career and a pretty decent peak. He's not in the top 10 for either peak or prime, but he's in the conversation for the top 20 (I have the OPS+ for his 5 best offensive seasons at 160 -- good for a tie for 21st with Carlos Delgado. And he was both more durable and a better defender than many of the guys in front of him.

There's a small list of guys who are clearly a class above him. He can be sensibly compared to most of the second tier HOFers. I'm really surprised at how well he does on the peak lists. I think Tracy's basic point is valid, I just don't like the arguments he's putting forward.

   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4773537)
To be fair, if you believe that steroids are the reason run scoring was so high back then, and you are considering a hitter you believe to be clean, then OPS+ does not work.
   9. BDC Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4773553)
Most similar batting careers to Todd Helton's. Have I done this before? Who cares :)

Player           dWAR    PA OPSRbaser WAA/pos      Pos
Sammy Sosa       
-1.0  9896  128  -14.6    28.0  *98D/H7
Al Simmons       
-1.1  9518  133    2.7    34.8  *78/H93
John Olerud      
-2.0  9063  129  -23.0    27.3     *3DH
Fred Clarke      
-2.7  9838  133   -1.2    35.2  *7/6985
Goose Goslin     
-4.7  9829  128   11.9    30.5 *79/H835
Todd Helton      
-5.9  9453  133  -10.4    33.1  *3/H7D9
Zack Wheat       
-6.9 10000  129   -5.4    28.5   *7/H89
Jim Rice         
-8.8  9058  128    4.8    18.6  *7D/9H8
Willie Keeler   
-10.0  9553  127   -6.8    20.5 *9/54786
Jason Giambi    
-20.4  8890  139  -15.1    19.9 *3DH7/59 


Rarely do you see a list cleave so noticeably. If you hit like that and play the outfield, with whatever skill, you're a Hall of Famer or would have been but for steroids. But if you're a first baseman, also of whatever fielding skill, no way in ####.

Note: I'm missing 14 games for Keeler because I start these searches in 1893. Mentally add them in if you prefer :)
   10. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4773558)
Ringolsby is cherry picking here, but those road numbers are pretty amazing even for that era, when you realize he didn't have Coors Field in them. If he had been a Dodger, he'd easily have been a .300/.400/.500/.900+ road hitter.
   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4773568)
And another anecdote for the Padres historical archive of incompetence.

The Padres selected Helton in the second round out of high school, and it appeared he was ready to sign. When then Padres scouting director Reggie Waller showed up at Helton's house with the contract, the bonus was smaller than had been agreed upon.

Helton remembered Waller trying to blame it on a clerical mistake and offered to race Helton for double or nothing. Helton declined the race and the contract, and went to Tennessee where he was an All-American in baseball and the Vols quarterback in between Heath Schuler and Peyton Manning.
   12. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4773581)
#9 I love the fact that you were somehow able to create a list of similar players that includes Jim Rice, Jason Giambi, *and* Willie Keeler.

I think it's highly unlikely that Helton will make the Hall, but if you put any stock in defensive metrics he's not a bad candidate, certainly borderline but much better than some of the other guys on that list. Same thing with Olerud although he's already off the ballot.
   13. puck Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4773582)
What is his case based on, peak? His 5 best seasons all came in a row, which is a nice peak. Career-wise, BB-ref has him with 61.5 WAR, which is borderline, right? He started kind of late (1st full season in the age 24 year) and injuries hurt his post-30 career.
   14. Bourbon Samurai Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:10 PM (#4773588)
He offered to race him?
   15. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4773592)
Helton remembered Waller trying to blame it on a clerical mistake and offered to race Helton for double or nothing.

What the what?
   16. JRVJ Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:27 PM (#4773618)
Ringolsby often comes here, which I personally appreciate.

Other than that, I haven't RTFA, but it seems to me that Ringolsby tries to answer the first line of (inevitable) questions that would arise from his contention that Helton is HoF worthy.
   17. Ziggy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4773655)
Three things:

#8 - You also have to care about steroids. Maybe you do, but lots of people around here don't.

It's funny that Zack Wheat got exactly 10,000 plate appearances.

And it's amazing that Jason Giambi could be TWENTY WINS below replacement on defense. That's like, take Bret Boone's entire career - Giambi's fielding has been worth negative that. Yowza.
   18. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4773681)
What is his case based on, peak? His 5 best seasons all came in a row, which is a nice peak. Career-wise, BB-ref has him with 61.5 WAR, which is borderline, right? He started kind of late (1st full season in the age 24 year) and injuries hurt his post-30 career.


I don't like to use WAR for HOF evaluations because players can accumulate it while being a poor player, and I don't like to give credit for that.

I like WAA, because the player only accumulates it by being above average, and poor seasons cost them WAA. But I don't count WAA after 35 if it's negative, assuming that it's the teams decision to keep them playing long after their peaks, either due to contract or fan appeal, and I'm not going to debit the player for that. I call it the Jeter rule, Derek had 35.1 WAA at end of age 35, he has barely 31 now.

Helton finished with 31 WAA, but at end of age 35 he had 35.6. I think 35 WAA is a clear HOF level and that 30 is borderline, based on nothing more than anecdotally looking at players careers. As Dave pointed out, Todd was considered a very good defender. Combined with that excellent hitting he's a worthy HOF member, but few know it (and I didn't until reading Tracy's article and this thread). If he played for Dodgers he'd probably have a .300/.390/.500 line for same 133 OPS+ and be heavily hyped for HOF post retirement.

But things could be worse. He could have played for Padres, hit .290/.380/.480 for same 133 OPS+, and no one would even remember him.
   19. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4773698)
What the what?


Maybe Waller figured that the average 18-year-old male athlete was stupid and proud enough to hear that and go, \"#### yeah! Let's race!" In fairness, it's not the worst thought process I've ever heard.
   20. zack Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4773706)
I really like the headline for this piece. It's literally true.

Now, adjusting those numbers for context (position, era, park mainly) he's a borderline guy, personally I'd lean toward out.

He's the big bat and 1B on my birthday team so I've always had a fondness for him, though whether he or Graig Nettles is the best player gets back to what I meant by borderline.
   21. TJ Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4773747)
Helton has a number of HOF challenges viz a viz the BBWAA- the perceived Coors benefit, playing in the Steroid ERA, and no "magic numbers" like 3000 hits or 500 homers, even with playing at Coors. But Helton's real HOF problem is that the BBWAA has not been kind to any first baseman of his type- a line drive hitting .300 hitter with modest (for a 1B) power numbers. Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, and Will Clark come to mind, not to mention Don Mattingly, whose career power numbers were sapped by the same sort of injury as Helton's. Was Helton better than the bottom tier of HOF first basemen? Of course he was (Ringolsby should know better than making a first baseman's HOF case by saying he was better than Jim Bottomley and Tony Perez), but was he as good as Willie McCovey, Harmon KIllebrew, Eddie Murray, etc, and why is he a better candidate than Hernandez, Clark, Olerud, and Mattingly? That's the point Ringolsby should address.

Personally I put Todd Helton in the "gatekeeper" class along with Hernandez, Olerud, Clark, and Mattingly (add in Dick Allen if you don't think he should be in Cooperstown), in that I wouldn't be really riled up if he were to be inducted, but there should be no doubt about inducting anyone better than he.
   22. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4773762)
54.2 JAWS puts Helton dead-center among HOF 1Bmen (although Pujols and Bagwell will move that line up eventually). Thome has an even better case at 57.2, but he's probably not going in, either.
   23. TJ Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4773773)
Helton will be an interesting HOF case- he is a no-brainer if you are a Big Hall guy (yes) or a Small Hall guy (no). If you are anything else, Helton sits right in the gray area, with anecdotal pros and cons on both sides of the argument...
   24. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 18, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4773775)
Thome has an even better case at 57.2, but he's probably not going in, either.


I can't see Thome being left out. It may take a few years, but he'll make it.

   25. Ziggy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4773802)
Yeah, Thome is, last I heard, widely beloved, and he cleared 600 home runs. To go with a 147 OPS+ (tied with Edgar, Mike Schmidt, Willie McCovey, Stargell and Sam Thompson) in over 10,000 PA. I have a hard time imagining him not being elected.
   26. Accent Shallow Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4773829)
What the what?




Maybe Waller figured that the average 18-year-old male athlete was stupid and proud enough to hear that and go, \"#### yeah! Let's race!" In fairness, it's not the worst thought process I've ever heard.


. . .and Waller was quick enough to take the average 18-year-old male athlete? I can't imagine that being legally binding.
   27. Danny Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4773836)
There are 116 position players in the Hall of Fame who had at least 4,000 plate appearances since 1912, which is how far back the home-road splits extend for Stats Inc. Among those 116 position players:

There are 244 position players who had 4000 PA during Helton's career (1997-2003). Helton's road OPS is 39th among this group, just ahead of Dmitri Young.
   28. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:26 PM (#4773844)
There are 244 position players who had 4000 PA during Helton's career (1997-2003). Helton's road OPS is 39th among this group, just ahead of Dmitri Young.


Helton has had to hit in LA, SF, and SD for the bulk of his road games - all very poor hitters parks.
   29. Srul Itza Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4773859)
Count me among those believing that Thome will eventually make the Hall.
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4773868)
But Helton's real HOF problem is that the BBWAA has not been kind to any first baseman of his type- a line drive hitting .300 hitter with modest (for a 1B) power numbers. Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, and Will Clark come to mind, not to mention Don Mattingly, whose career power numbers were sapped by the same sort of injury as Helton's.

Yeah, I think of Helton kind of like Clark - MVP candidate with monster offensive numbers for a few seasons, then just an All-Star caliber hitter for a few seasons, and then hung around for a long time as an average or slightly above average player but without the 1B power numbers.

EDIT: And barring some sort of steroids revelation I am pretty certain Thome will make the Hall.
   31. alilisd Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4773871)
And it's amazing that Jason Giambi could be TWENTY WINS below replacement on defense. That's like, take Bret Boone's entire career - Giambi's fielding has been worth negative that


No, his fielding plus (well, minus actually) his postitional adjustment has been 20 wins below. For example, in the past four years he's 0 fielding runs per DRS, but -9, basically one win, on positional adjustment. In the two years before that he's -10 fielding runs, and another -9 on positional adjustment. So over the past five (EDIT 6 seasons, not 5) seasons he's about 3 wins below replacement per dWAR, but only one of those is due to his fielding, the rest is due to being a 1B and DH.
   32. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 18, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4773878)
Yeah, Thome is, last I heard, widely beloved, and he cleared 600 home runs.

Well, widely beloved in Cleveland, at least.

Look, I think Thome belongs, too, but he's got baggage: no rings, no MVPs (never even came close to one), only 5 ASGs. And his non-HR numbers are uninspiring: 2,328 hits, .276 average (and a sickly .211 in postseason). Yes, there's the 612 homers...hit in the sillyball, steroids era. My guess is that he won't get elected by the BBWAA, but may make it in eventually...
   33. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: August 18, 2014 at 04:09 PM (#4773904)
There are 244 position players who had 4000 PA during Helton's career (1997-2003). Helton's road OPS is 39th among this group, just ahead of Dmitri Young.


Helton has had to hit in LA, SF, and SD for the bulk of his road games - all very poor hitters parks.



True, but it's still pretty damning, considering it's a first baseman being considered for the HOF. I don't care what your road parks are, if you can't out hit Dmitiri Young, you shouldn't be citing road stats as some sort of positive.
   34. alilisd Posted: August 18, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4773908)
And his non-HR numbers are uninspiring: 2,328 hits, .276 average (and a sickly .211 in postseason). Yes, there's the 612 homers...hit in the sillyball, steroids era. My guess is that he won't get elected by the BBWAA, but may make it in eventually...


I think this underestimates the electorate (you don't see that very often around here!). Many of them are well aware of the importance of OBP, .402, versus BA, the importance of times on base (over 4,000!) versus raw hit totals. And, come on, 612 HR with, so far, no PED taint! I could see making an argument he won't be "first ballot" due to a variety of reasons, but to say he won't be elected by the writers is stretching it.
   35. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4773917)
Helton has had to hit in LA, SF, and SD for the bulk of his road games - all very poor hitters parks.

He's also got to hit in Arizona which if it wasn't for the presence of Coors Field would be the best hitters park in the NL. Heck, if it wasn't for Coors Field the PF for LA, SF, SD, and Ari would all be higher.
   36. Ziggy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4773961)
How about this: Giambi's fielding has been worth negative Bret Boone's entire career, relative to Albert Pujols' fielding. (That almost works, since Pujols has spent almost his entire career at 1B, and has been worth about 1 win above replacement on fielding, including the position adjustment.) Sure, Pujols is a really good fielder, but Bret Boone was a pretty good player, too.

And I'm shocked that some people think Thome won't have an easy time with the BBWAA. Compare him to Killebrew. Now, he's not as good of a candidate: Killebrew spent more time at 3rd, and won an MVP award. But, with an era adjustment, they are reasonably similar. (For whatever - i.e., very little - it's worth, BB-Ref has Thome as Killebrew's 7th most-similar player.) It only took Killebrew 4 tries to get in, and he cleared 50% on his very first ballot.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4773980)
Look, I think Thome belongs, too, but he's got baggage: no rings, no MVPs (never even came close to one), only 5 ASGs. And his non-HR numbers are uninspiring: 2,328 hits, .276 average (and a sickly .211 in postseason). Yes, there's the 612 homers...hit in the sillyball, steroids era. My guess is that he won't get elected by the BBWAA, but may make it in eventually...

Oh, I doubt Thome takes more than 3 or 4 ballots. Bagwell should get in within 5 or 6 ballots, Thomas was a first ballot guy, and Thome's got the 600+ HRs.
   38. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4773982)
Thome will have no problem getting in through the BBWAA. He probably won't be first ballot (although I wouldn't completely rule it out), but he will get in. 600 HR + no steroid taint + actually a good player (no sabermetric case against him). No brainer.
   39. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 18, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4773994)
No, his fielding plus (well, minus actually) his postitional adjustment has been 20 wins below.

Right. Giambi has been worth -20 wins in the field but that breaks down about 7-8 wins from his fielding and 12-13 from the positional adjustment.

It is correct to say the quality of his fielding has been about 20 wins worse than Albert Pujols, but I bet that Giambi is not unique in that factor. Pujols has created a ton of positive value with his glove relative to most first basemen.
   40. Ziggy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4774053)
Okay, so ESPN lists 21 qualified 1b-men for 2013. They average -.6 dWAR. Giambi has about 15 or 16 full-seasons worth of play. If the 2013 1b men are representative, Giambi has been about 10 wins below average, over the course of his career, relative to other first basemen. (Of course the 2013 group may not be representative, and there's all sort of estimation involved here: some of those qualified 1b-men had limited playing time and would have pulled the average down a bit had they been around for a full season. There are better ways to do this - for instance, calculating dWAR/defensive inning played, but I'm much too lazy to punch all those numbers into a calculator, and I don't have a spreadsheet with all of them.)
   41. Danny Posted: August 18, 2014 at 06:37 PM (#4774067)
There are better ways to do this

Yes, just look at his rField. That tells you he's been 83 runs worse than the average 1B in the field.
   42. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 07:37 PM (#4774101)
There are 244 position players who had 4000 PA during Helton's career (1997-2003). Helton's road OPS is 39th among this group, just ahead of Dmitri Young.


True, but it's still pretty damning, considering it's a first baseman being considered for the HOF. I don't care what your road parks are, if you can't out hit Dmitiri Young, you shouldn't be citing road stats as some sort of positive.


He's also got to hit in Arizona which if it wasn't for the presence of Coors Field would be the best hitters park in the NL. Heck, if it wasn't for Coors Field the PF for LA, SF, SD, and Ari would all be higher.


It's ignorance like this that's why Helton will never get voted in.

Todd Helton arguably had to hit in the toughest collection of road parks in major league history. He might be the only player in history who spent a long career hitting in the highest offensive park in the MLB every year, and if there are others it's unlikely their parks were as high in relation to league averages (Coors was a 127! one year early in his career). If Coors averaged 14% higher than average in hitting during his career, that forced the rest of the NL parks to be collectively below average by the same amount. If he had hit the same amount of PAs in every NL road park, it wouldn't change his road expectation to more than 3% below neutral (including standard 2% road bias).

But he didn't.

Three of the other four NL West parks were strong pitchers parks during his career. During his career SF bounced between 89 and 105, with most years in mid 90s. Dodger Stadium was tougher still, and San Diego's park was the worst hitters park in the NL during his career and it's not even close. Petco & Qualcomm together account for his highest road PAs (544), then Dodger Stadium (487), then Chase (454) barely ahead of 3Com/SBC (448). Over 76% of 1,930 division PAs in strong pitchers parks averaging together 95 or lower, 23.5% in a 106 park. But those 4 NL West parks didn't have enough pitching bias to offset Coors by themselves, so his other 2,500 road PAs must also have been in parks averaging a slight pitching bias.

And he still hit .287/.386/.469 on the road in his career, which in a average road park of 98 neutralizes to roughly .300/.401/.489 in a neutral context. Anyone averaging a .300 BA and a 400 OBP for an entire career with decline years, even in that era, was certainly an incredible hitter.
   43. valuearbitrageur Posted: August 18, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4774118)
Oh and Dmitri Young averaged .295/.357/.495/.852 on the road during his career. Roughly 1,500 of his career 2,600 home PAs were in Busch, Tiger Stadium, and RFK stadium, rest in Cincinnati, so he averaged a pitching bias in his home parks which would mean a hitting bias in his road parks. But more importantly his 5 highest PA road parks were Comiskey II, Wrigley, Jacobs Field, the Metro-dome, and Coors Field. Comiskey was a hitters park over Dmitris highest PA years there, the rest of the five were obviously great hitters parks.

Comparing Helton and Da Meat Hook by raw OPS ignoring context, is cherry picking in the worst manner possible. You find a good hitter who had an extraordinarily favorable road hitting environment to denigrate a much better hitter who faced an extremely tough road hitting environment. and then ignore the fact that Heltons extra 29 points of OBP is much more valuable than Youngs extra 26 points of Slugging, meaning their road OPS isn't similar in value at all. And finally ignore adjusted metrics like OPS+ that do the work for you.
   44. Danny Posted: August 18, 2014 at 08:26 PM (#4774126)
I apologize if I gave you the impression that I think road OPS is a useful metric. I don't.
   45. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2014 at 11:32 PM (#4774230)
Those three parks are strong pitcher parks in part because they are getting compared heavily to Coors and Chase. For instance the Pirates at home had a total of 783 runs scored for and against while the Giants playing at home had a total of 746 runs scored for and against. Pittsburgh's single year park factor was 101/101 while San Frans was 91/91 yet SF had 95% of the runs that were scored in Pittsburgh.
   46. baxter Posted: August 19, 2014 at 12:51 AM (#4774263)
I think Killebrew gets undersold. Maybe it's because he was a star from my youth and he seemed larger than life. I don't value 1B defense that much; I don't think Helton was an extraordinary baserunner for a 1B (unlike, say Bagwell). Outside of his peak years, ages 26-31, he wasn't particularly special (compare Killebrew's batting #'s over a longer period of time). Thome has the career #'s, but keep in mind, he played 1/3 of his games as DH . If Killebrew DH'd, he wouldn't have gotten hurt in 1968 doing the splits. Killebrew had to play the field for almost his entire career; would he have declined slower, played longer if he could have DH's more? Helton's a borderline candidate for a 1B.

Please consider Beltre for the hall when the time comes, a much more valuable over all player (who played a position underrepresented in the hall) than Helton.
   47. Baldrick Posted: August 19, 2014 at 01:46 AM (#4774281)
Those three parks are strong pitcher parks in part because they are getting compared heavily to Coors and Chase.

And?

That's the overall context in which the numbers occurred. Why do we care if they were or were not 'true' pitcher parks in some absolute sense?
   48. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 19, 2014 at 04:14 AM (#4774287)
Yeah, I think of Helton kind of like Clark - MVP candidate with monster offensive numbers for a few seasons, then just an All-Star caliber hitter for a few seasons, and then hung around for a long time as an average or slightly above average player but without the 1B power numbers.
I agree with this completely. For a first baseman in Denver to not hit for much power is a real problem for me. The one great advantage of Denver is big power numbers, and if a guy plays a power position there he needs to be able to take advantage of that or the team suffers for it.

I always liked Helton as a player, but if I had a vote I'd hold off on voting for him.
   49. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 19, 2014 at 05:29 AM (#4774295)
Why do we care if they were or were not 'true' pitcher parks in some absolute sense?


If they keep ERA+ numbers down for Giants, Dodgers, and Padres pitchers, then that would be a reason to care, because it would make them look worse than they are. I don't know if they do, though, because I still don't really understand how the park adjustment works. My assumption is that it takes into account all stadiums the pitcher pitched in, and uses the park factors arrived at by comparing all major league parks to each other, not just the parks in the pitcher's home division.
   50. bjhanke Posted: August 19, 2014 at 06:26 AM (#4774300)
First, just to get it out of the way, I think that Jim Thome is a no-brain HoFer.

Helton is a different question. You have to deal with three adjustments, all with a high probability of a very high effect:

The ballpark. Coors was very much like the Baker Bowl, except that Coors supposedly favored righty hitters, while the BB favored lefties. While it's probably true that here are no players of real power quality who played EVERY year of their careers in the Bowl, there is Cuuck Klein, who played all but two full years there, and had huge homer splits, and who played the outfield. Before Klein, you get people like Gavy Cravath and Fred Luderus, who did play their entire careers in the Bowl and whose homer splits are off the charts. Cravath's home / road homer splits come to about 3.85 / 1. Luderus' are 3/1, exactly. Klein's, however, are not even 2/1, but that's because he played in the Babe Ruth era, when anyone who had actual power could hit at least some homers in almost any park.

The offensive context. The 1990s and the 1920s are the two highest ever, if you're only counting earned runs (the 1800s scores are driven by lots of errors).

The DH. If you want to compare Helton to, say, Gil Hodges, one of the problems you have is that Hodges was not able to extend his hitting career, or play through injuries, because there was no DH.

Most of these adjustments are not thoroughly made right now. Ballpark splits do not appear separately for lefties and righties anywhere I know of, although it's clear that almost every ballpark has at least some bias. This means that ballpark adjustments are not nearly as accurate as they could (and I think should) be. Working through offensive contexts means making accurate adjustments for errors, and again, I don't know of anywhere that is done in a really credible way. And the damned DH is just one big huge pain if you're trying to evaluate a slugger with little defensive value. You have to try to figure out at what point the modern player would have had to retire, if he had had to play in the field.

Given all that, I am unwilling to make a confident analysis of Helton. I imagine that some of the three issues will get dealt with eventually. Maybe then we can make more sense of things like Helton's HoF candidacy. Until then, all we can say with any confidence is that Jim Thome is clearly over the HoF border. We can't even say with certainty how much over the line Thome is, much less Helton. - Brock Hanke
   51. stevegamer Posted: August 19, 2014 at 07:33 AM (#4774302)
Re #50, it's down to 2 adjustments things, because this:

The DH. If you want to compare Helton to, say, Gil Hodges, one of the problems you have is that Hodges was not able to extend his hitting career, or play through injuries, because there was no DH.


is not a problem for Helton. There is no DH in the National League, and he has played a total of 2 games as a DH per B-Ref. I can't see anyone considering that to be any significant extension of a career at all.
   52. shoewizard Posted: August 19, 2014 at 08:39 AM (#4774313)
I posted this September 23rd, last year, a week before his retirement

Baseball reference has a feature that allows you to look at player production in a neutral context against historical run averages.

Various first basemen, all not in HOF.....162 G Averages, (650 PA) at 4.42 R/G Neutral Environment

Can you guess which one is Helton without looking it up ?

Player A 296/406/539, 945 OPS, 34 HR 114 RBI Jeff Bagwell (7th)
Player B 307/387/501, 889 OPS, 24 HR 102 RBI Will Clark (24th)
Player C 283/376/509, 885 OPS, 33 HR 102 RBI Fred McGriff (28th)
Player D 292/387/496, 883 OPS, 23 HR 83 RBI Todd Helton (14th)
Player E 292/394/460, 855 OPS, 18 HR 87 RBI John Olerud (21st)
Player F 306/396/450, 846 OPS, 13 HR 89 RBI Keith Hernandez (19th)
Player G 313/365/478, 843 OPS, 20 HR 104 RBI Don Mattingly (36th)



Post Edited with names matching the line. obviously this doesn't take playing time, longevity into account. I have also put the players JAWS ranking in brackets after the name.

Helton gets a big boost here when you look at JAWS, and while slightly below the HOF avg, slots in well amongst guys like Mcovey, Murray, and Greenberg. JAWS gives him a nice bump for his very high peak, as his Peak 7 years ranks 11th all time. And of course the defense metrics like Helton's D a lot more than McGriff or Clark, to the tune of over 100 runs or approx 10 wins better than McGriff and 72 runs, or roughly 7 wins more than Clark.

If you just look at Offensive WAR which includes the positional adjustments, and basically everything but the defensive runs plus or minus, then McGriff, Clark, and Helton neck and neck for career value.


Anyway....unless someone has evidence Bagwell used PED's and Helton didn't, it's idiotic for the writers not to have already voted Bagwell in. And if Helton gets in before Bagwell they should just burn the HOF to the ground.


   53. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4774327)
And?

That's the overall context in which the numbers occurred. Why do we care if they were or were not 'true' pitcher parks in some absolute sense?


The argument put forth by others is that Colorado players because of the unbalanced schedule play in extreme pitchers parks on road and my point is that they only look extreme because the unbalanced schedule has them playing a lot of games in a real honest to goodness extreme hitters park. The actual run environment in those "extreme" pitchers parks is not really all that extreme.
   54. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4774330)
ost of these adjustments are not thoroughly made right now. Ballpark splits do not appear separately for lefties and righties anywhere I know of, although it's clear that almost every ballpark has at least some bias.

Seamhead ballpark database has PF for various events broken down by left/right. Coors Field is a great park for lefties and righties.
   55. alilisd Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:05 PM (#4774972)
Helton had a great career, a really nice peak, and prime, which ran from 1998-2007. But just look at 1B and DH for those same years with at least 4,500 PA's. He wasn't as good a hitter as Pujols, Giambi, or Thome. He wasn't a better hitter than Edgar, Delgado, Bagwell, or Ortiz. Sure, he has other advantages over the two DH's, but when you look at the careers of the guys on the list you're looking at Pujols, Thomas, Thome, Bagwell, and Palmeiro as better players, or at least comparable in Palmeiro's case. You have two DH's with arguments. Does Helton really distinguish himself in this company? Seems like he could fit in with Olerud, Giambi, and Delgado as well or better than the top guys. If you want to put him in front of them for being a superior defender at an offense first position, fine, but I don't see it putting him in with the top guys of that group.
   56. puck Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:35 PM (#4774992)
Can you guess which one is Helton without looking it up ?


I read this after you put the labels on, but I might have guessed due to the low RBI total. (Though his numbers are close to Olerud's.) I always wondered if ultimately that's what sinks him with a bulk of the writers--outside his 5 year peak, he never had 100RBI's. They will probably like his batting average, approach at the plate (one of the better 2-strike hitters) but he is a 1st baseman so maybe the RBI's will matter more.
   57. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 19, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4775010)
The one great advantage of Denver is big power numbers,


Do you know who was the last Rockie to hit 40 homers in a season?

Todd Helton, 2001.
   58. Baldrick Posted: August 19, 2014 at 10:02 PM (#4775022)
The argument put forth by others is that Colorado players because of the unbalanced schedule play in extreme pitchers parks on road and my point is that they only look extreme because the unbalanced schedule has them playing a lot of games in a real honest to goodness extreme hitters park. The actual run environment in those "extreme" pitchers parks is not really all that extreme.

But it is compared to the other people in the league. Because Coors does exist, and everyone else's road numbers include it.

If you're comparing across eras, I guess this matters. And TFA is doing that, so fair enough. But still, if you're comparing across eras, the overall run environment of the 90s/00s is going to be a lot more important. That's the much bigger problem with that endeavor.
   59. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2014 at 11:15 PM (#4775073)
What I'm saying is that because of the unbalanced schedule the pitchers parks look more extreme than they really are. When Pittsburgh comes to San Fran the run environment isn't 20% lower as PF would have you believe but only about 10% lower than Pittsburgh.
   60. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4775110)
Does Helton really distinguish himself in this company? Seems like he could fit in with Olerud, Giambi, and Delgado as well or better than the top guys. If you want to put him in front of them for being a superior defender at an offense first position, fine, but I don't see it putting him in with the top guys of that group.


I'm pretty sure no one is arguing that Helton is a surefire hall of famer, most people are talking about him as a borderline to below average but still worthy candidate. I think you can pretty easily have him above the line even if you have Pujols, Thome, Bagwell, and Edgar in. I think he distinguishes himself well against Delgado, Ortiz, and Giambi with his considerable defensive value, and above Olerud for his peak (44 bWAR vs 32). I think he'll have a hard time getting in, though, for the reasons expressed above.

Also, unless Jim Thome gets outed for roids he's going into the HoF.
   61. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:26 AM (#4775111)
Todd Helton is Adam LaRoche at altitude.


Also, this is just dumb.
   62. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 20, 2014 at 04:44 AM (#4775134)
Do you know who was the last Rockie to hit 40 homers in a season?

Todd Helton, 2001.
That says something about the Rockies' inability to develop or acquire premium power hitters.
   63. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:33 AM (#4775164)
I agree with this completely. For a first baseman in Denver to not hit for much power is a real problem for me. The one great advantage of Denver is big power numbers, and if a guy plays a power position there he needs to be able to take advantage of that or the team suffers for it.

Not really. As much of an effect as coors had on power, you can argue that the effect on BA was even larger. I haven't checked every year, but looking at '99 as an example, you have an increase of about .080 BA and .160 SLG from road to home. So even if they are all singles, extra hits would explain half of the "power" increase. And well... a lot of those extra hits won't be singles. People putting more balls in play, and getting more hits when they do, seems like a more accurate description to me, than "big power numbers".

Or to put it another way, as percentage of total hit:
Type Home Away
2B 18.2% 19.0%
3B 1.9% 2.7%
HR 15.1% 11.5%

That is an increase yes. I just think it pales when compared to 955 hits at home 689 on the road.

As an aside, looking up Todd Helton, I saw this on BR:
(Age 41.000)HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Just sharing it, cause I thought it was cute.

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