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Percentages not in Helton's favor

Todd Helton got his 2,500th hit this week, but will that spell a trip to Cooperstown?
Todd Helton got his 2,500th hit this week, but will that spell a trip to Cooperstown?
Image from Sportschump.net

The Colorado Rockies' Todd Helton became the latest member of the 2,500-hit club this week, but will that be enough to put him in the more exclusive Hall of Fame line-up?

Helton's double in the seventh inning of Sunday's game between the Rockies and Cincinnati Reds brought a game stoppage and standing ovation. Whether that punches his ticket to Cooperstown remains to be seen.

The combination of Helton heading to the plate in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the Major Leagues and his lack of Helton-like numbers due to injuries the past five years put his enshrinement at baseball's mecca in serious jeopardy. Due to hip, knee and back ailments, Helton has only averaged 10 homers and 108 games played since 2008 – not exactly Hall of Fame numbers.

With the microscope that offense numbers are under these days, Helton's skewed home totals may raise some questions as to just how good of a hitter he was when his name goes on the Hall of Fame ballot. His Coors Field numbers are legendary, helping him to the top spot in nearly every Rockies' offensive category. Helton's runs scored, runs batted in, doubles, homers, total bases, walks received and plate appearances all are Rockies' franchise records.

But how much has having half of the slugger's games in the thin air and bandbox known as Coors impacted those numbers? Helton's on-base plus slugging percentage is an astounding 192 points higher at home than on the road.

Where does than rank compared to other sluggers in history? Helton's home OPS is the sixth highest since 1916. His home OPS of 1049 only trails Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, Barry Bonds and Lou Gehrig. Helton's road OPS of 857 is more than 80 points away from Stan Musial's 944. (Musial is 10th in highest home OPS with 1009.) Of the 10 hitters with the highest home OPS, Foxx is the only other hitter besides Helton to have more than a 100-point difference between the home and road. Foxx had a 150-point difference.

It is hard to say Helton has Hall of Fame numbers when there is such a discrepancy between his home and road totals. Time will tell just where Helton's numbers fall. With performing enhancing drug scandals swirling around many current offensive stars, Helton's numbers may look better and the staggering road/home performance difference be damned farther on down the road.

If enough of his contemporaries fall, Helton's numbers may pave the way to Cooperstown. But maybe not. Baseball writers don't give free passes into the shrine just so that somebody gets in. The lack of any Hall inductions in 1996 sent that message loud and clear.

If Helton hangs up the cleats after this season (which could be the case with an expiring contract and growing physical ailments), he would be on the Hall ballet in 2019.

Should Helton gain enough votes to get into baseball's most hallowed group, his induction speech should borrow a line from Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” and let onlookers know that for him “There's no place like home.”