Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Todd Helton

2020 Hall of Fame Ballot Series: Todd Helton

Five facts about Todd Helton: The first two tables below present Todd Helton's career as measured by Player won-lost records, in and out of context.

Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWORL pWOPA
1997COL23
35
2.22.7-0.4-0.6
1998COL24
152
15.414.50.7-0.8
1999COL25
159
17.014.72.10.6
2000COL26
160
22.414.57.96.1
2001COL27
159
20.414.95.43.7
2002COL28
156
19.014.94.12.4
2003COL29
160
19.814.75.33.6
2004COL30
154
17.113.73.52.0
2005COL31
144
15.613.91.60.3
2006COL32
145
15.714.70.8-0.6
2007COL33
154
18.014.33.72.2
2008COL34
83
8.28.5-0.3-1.1
2009COL35
151
16.113.72.10.7
2010COL36
118
10.19.80.1-0.8
2011COL37
124
12.811.51.20.1
2012COL38
69
6.26.4-0.1-0.7
2013COL39
124
10.610.9-0.2-1.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,247
246.7208.337.615.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
15
1.41.5-0.2-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,262
248.1209.837.415.4


Expected Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games eWins eLosses eWORL eWOPA
1997COL23
35
2.42.50.1-0.2
1998COL24
152
15.914.01.80.3
1999COL25
159
16.914.82.10.5
2000COL26
160
22.114.87.35.5
2001COL27
159
21.713.68.26.4
2002COL28
156
19.614.35.43.7
2003COL29
160
20.114.45.74.0
2004COL30
154
18.212.65.74.2
2005COL31
144
16.712.83.92.5
2006COL32
145
15.914.51.3-0.1
2007COL33
154
18.114.23.82.4
2008COL34
83
8.78.10.6-0.1
2009COL35
151
16.313.62.51.1
2010COL36
118
9.710.2-0.7-1.6
2011COL37
124
13.211.02.21.0
2012COL38
69
6.26.4-0.3-0.9
2013COL39
124
10.910.60.5-0.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,247
252.6202.449.928.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
15
1.61.40.1-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,262
254.2203.850.028.1


This is Todd Helton's second year on the Hall-of-Fame ballot. I wrote articles about the Hall-of-Fame candidates last year, when Todd Helton first appeared on the BBWAA ballot. Much of these earlier articles are somewhat obsolete due to changes to my Player won-lost records over time. But, for the sake of posterity, these old articles are linked at the end of my general article on Player won-lost records and the Hall of Fame.

Vote Prediction
Todd Helton is a difficult player to evaluate. His raw statistics are overwhelming. He has a career batting line of .316/.414/.539, making him one of only 23 players in MLB history with a career batting line of better than .300/.400/.500 (min. 3,000 plate appearances). Helton's 592 career doubles are the 19th-most in major-league history. But, of course, Helton played his entire career in one of the highest run-scoring eras in baseball history for the team whose home ballpark was probably the most favorable hitting environment in major-league history.

Helton received 70 Hall of Fame votes in his first year on the ballot, good for 16.5%. The wonderful Hall-of-Fame tracker put together by Ryan Thibodeaux includes a column titled "If No 10-Player Limit, Would Have Also Voted For:". Only three players were named more frequently than Helton (who was named nine times). With the ballot being significantly less crowded this year, there is clearly considerable room for Helton's vote total to grow.

I suspect that Helton may also benefit from the additional attention that is likely to fall on the other longtime Colorado Rockie on this year's ballot, Larry Walker, who is in his final year on the BBWAA ballot and is within spitting distance of being elected. Certainly, anyone reluctant to vote for Larry Walker, who had several fine offensive seasons with the Montreal Expos and St. Louis Cardinals before and after his time in Colorado, because of Coors Field is probably not going to vote for Todd Helton. But if careful consideration of Larry Walker leads some voters to become more comfortable with the exact extent to which Coors Field boosted offense and how best to adjust for that, these same voters may grow more comfortable in their evaluations of Todd Helton. That said, a fair evaluation of Todd Helton probably leads one to the conclusion that he is a fairly borderline Hall-of-Fame candidate - not a bad candidate by any means, but not an obvious Hall-of-Famer.

All of that said, I would expect Todd Helton to get a fairly significant boost in his vote totals this year, perhaps as high as, say, a 50% increase in his votes. That would push him from 70 votes to 105 and from 16.5% to something like 24-25%. Probably more likely on the low end of that, my prediction for Todd Helton's vote total this year is 24.0%.

Player Won-Lost Records and Todd Helton
Player won-lost records do not love Todd Helton. Don't get me wrong: he had a very fine career and there are plenty of worse players in the Hall of Fame. And he has a legitimate Hall-of-Fame case. But it's a fairly borderline case and, at least with respect to Player won-lost records, he has to be evaluated with just the right statistics.

I wrote a 53-page (~20,000-word) "article" (53 pages seems long for an "article"; it's kind of a book chapter, minus the book) about comparing players using Player won-lost records, which is here. I discuss Todd Helton a bit there (pp. 10-11) and one of his issues: he played in an era when the positional average for first basemen was fairly high. Helton also looks better in expected wins (eWins) than in context (pWins).

In my general article on the 2020 Hall-of-Fame ballot, I gave people the opportunity to construct their own Hall-of-Fame ballot via Player won-lost records by choosing how to weight various factors. Helton supporters would presumably want to use long-run positional averages and weight eWins much more heavily than pWins. Helton also looks better the higher the baseline against which he's compared - he looks best in what I call eWO*, eWins over "star", which is a level (one standard deviation) higher than average - because his career is relatively short (for a Hall-of-Famer) and his case is primarily a (five-year) peak case.

Using long-run positional averages and focusing on eWins only (as opposed to pWins), here the 10 players most similar to Todd Helton in career value, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Most Similar Players to Todd Helton in Value
Wins over Baseline
Player Games eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL Bat Run Field
Todd Helton
2,247
252.6202.428.6
50.3
40.0-1.88.0
Joe Torre
2,209
245.3208.430.6
53.2
28.6-1.64.9
Gil Hodges
2,071
219.5179.421.4
41.2
29.2-0.67.1
Orlando Cepeda
2,124
249.4207.721.6
44.9
36.8-2.23.8
Vladimir Guerrero Sr.
2,147
292.0247.031.6
59.2
40.0-1.57.0
Norm Cash
2,087
218.8170.830.1
49.6
42.4-2.13.5
Will Clark
1,976
230.1181.131.3
51.6
39.00.67.2
John Olerud
2,234
232.3198.217.8
39.1
28.3-1.37.7
Lance Berkman
1,879
237.9189.635.1
55.8
44.0-1.13.5
Jack Clark
1,992
253.1201.036.7
60.2
45.9-1.05.5
Rafael Palmeiro
2,829
311.3264.527.3
57.0
44.5-1.45.6


That's not a bad set of players at all. It includes three Hall-of-Famers (although one of them is in the Hall primarily as a manager) and a fourth player who would probably be in the Hall of Fame had he not failed a PED test.

Comparing Helton to Orlando Cepeda, they were very similar but Helton was generally better across the board with a few more eWins and a slightly higher eWOPA, which was the result of being somewhat better across all three factors evaluated here - Helton was a little better hitter, a bit better (or, perhaps more accurately, less bad) baserunner, and a better fielder.

Helton and Vladimir Guerrero, on the other hand, have the same number of batting wins over average - with Helton reaching that in about 200 fewer plate appearances, suggesting he was probably the slightly better hitter of the two. Helton was a better fielder than Guerrero - although they played different positions, so it's hard to make a completely fair comparison here (the baseline here, though, is replacement level, which varies by position, so the numbers should theoretically be comparable). Guerrero has a few more eWins and a bit higher eWOPA because, as a first baseman, Helton is being compared to a slightly higher positional average than Guerrero, who was primarily a right fielder.

But overall, Helton fits in nicely with Cepeda and Guerrero. If you think the latter two are deserving Hall-of-Famers, it seems reasonable to view Helton as one too.

Article last updated: December 2, 2019

2020 Hall of Fame Ballot Series




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