What are Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame chances in 2023?


Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Hey Patrick, what do you think of Todd Helton’s chances of getting into the Hall of Fame next year? I have him penciled in with Scott Rolen for the 2023 class.

— Mike, Denver

Mike, I feel confident that Helton will eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown but I don’t think he’ll make it in 2023.

The Rockies’ icon received 52% of the vote the last time around and it would take a quantum leap for him to reach the 75% needed for election. There is still a strong contingent of voters who think Helton measures up just a little shy of the Hall of Fame. They usually cite the “Coors Field factor’ and lack of productivity over the final third of his career.

But with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa all off the ballot, it clears the way for Helton going forward.

As of right now, I think Carlos Beltran, who’s on the ballot for the first time, has the best chance. Rolan has a good chance, too. He jumped 10.3% last year and was voted in on 63.2% of the ballots.

Helton is following a faster trajectory than his Rockies teammate Larry Walker, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in his final year of eligibility in 2020. Helton, who was a lifetime .316 hitter and slugged 369 home runs with Colorado, is in his fifth year of eligibility. Walker, remember, didn’t break 50% until his ninth year on the ballot.

Who is your 1-9 for the start of next season? Do you see Connor Joe, Yonathan Daza, Sam Hilliard or Garrett Hampson in the lineup?

— Rockies fan, Denver

Well, that’s a difficult question, given that I don’t know if the Rockies will make any major acquisitions during the offseason. They need to, for sure, but will they?

Anyway, knowing what I know right now, here’s my opening day lineup at San Diego on March 30, 2023:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, right field
  2. Kris Bryant, left field
  3. Brendan Rodgers, second base
  4. C.J. Cron, designated hitter
  5. Ryan McMahon, third base
  6. Ezequiel Tovar, shortstop
  7. Randal Grichuk, center field
  8. Michael Toglia, first base
  9. Elias Diaz, catcher

The opening day starter would be right-hander German Marquez. I’m not sure where I would put Elehuris Montero, but he’ll be a big part of the 2023 team. If Toglia — who got called up from Triple-A on Tuesday — suffers growing pains, Montero could well be the starting first baseman on opening day.    

Will Kris Bryant play again this season?

— Biff Fischer, Albany, N.Y.

Biff, as I’m sure you know, Bryant remains on the injured list with plantar fasciitis, a painful tissue injury in the bottom of his left foot. He’s still wearing a walking boot and recently underwent a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection. Last Wednesday, manager Bud Black said that Bryant would be re-evaluated in seven to 10 days. That means we might hear something later this week.

In my opinion, however, Bryant will be out for the rest of the season. I don’t see any reason to bring him back for the final month.

Greetings, Patrick. With the Rockies currently sitting at eighth in MLB attendance, do you foresee larger crowds next year with the balanced schedule? The Angels, Yankees, Astros and Blue Jays should draw huge crowds. What can be accomplished in the final 33 games?

— Robert Emmerling, Limon

Hey Robert, thanks, as always, for your continued participation in my Rockies Mailbag and for the conversations via Twitter.

Yes, I do think the crowds will grow at Coors Field next season. It’s a lot more interesting to watch the Yankees and the Astros than to see another Diamondbacks-Rockies game.

As for the remainder of the season, it’s looking like a high-intensity tryout for a number of players, such as relievers Robert Bird and Justin Lawrence, corner infielder Elehuris Montero, first baseman Michael Toglia and starter Ryan Feltner. Sure, the Rockies want to win as many games as they can, but they need to get a better sense of what they have as they head into the offseason.

With MLB’s announcement of a “balanced schedule,” we feel it compromises the history and integrity of the National and American leagues, which have been around since Day 1. The lifeblood of baseball is its records, which include separate records and awards of the two leagues. With this substantial increase in interleague play, baseball further dilutes the significance of awards, such as the Cy Young and batting champion. But most importantly of all, interleague play kills the drama of baseball’s two marque events, the All-Star Game and the World Series! What are your thoughts, Patrick?

— Bruce and Judy, Denver

Bruce and Judy, I disagree. There is still enough separation between the two leagues to make the NL and AL distinct and make the major awards worth something special.

I believe it’s important for baseball to make some changes that will captivate the fans. We all tend to think of baseball as a game of grand tradition. And it is. But the game has always endured major changes in its history, so allowing fans in Colorado to see the Rockies take on the Yankees and Red Sox for one series each season is fine by me.

In all seriousness Patrick, when will enough be enough for real changes? From (owner Dick) Monfort to (GM Bill) Schmidt to (manager Bud) Black, the team is abysmal and does not put a quality product on the field. Is there any kind of accountability to GM Bill Schmidt for this awful season?

— Erica, Denver

Erica, I’m going to let your opinion stand on its own. I’ve tried to answer this question more times than I can remember. Do I think the Rockies need a shakeup? Yes. Is Dick Monfort going to sell the team? No, he’s going to pass it down to his kids.

I’m guessing the Rox have done less at the trade deadline (buy or sell), say, over the past seven years, than other teams in MLB. Doesn’t take money to be sellers, so why do you think they go that route?

— Ken Fonda, Greeley

Ken, there are a few reasons, especially as it pertains to this year’s trade deadline. One, from what I have been told, apart from the strong interest shown in closer Daniel Bard, there was not very much trade chatter about shortstop Jose Iglesias, first baseman C.J. Cron or starter Chad Kuhl.

As for the Rockies’ overall reluctance to be a major player at the trade deadline, I believe it goes hand-in-hand with the franchise being very conservative and sticking to its draft-and-develop philosophy.

Who knows, perhaps this winter we will see Schmidt make a bold move or two to complement the young players coming up.

Hi Patrick, I have a question about Kyle Freeland and the Rockies clubhouse. During his post-game interviews, I noticed a Coors Light bottle in his locker. I thought both clubhouses at Coors Field were dry. Or did the Rockies change this rule? Or does Freeland just have an endorsement deal with the local brewery? Thanks.

— JB, Aurora

JB, I know a lot of the players drink a beer or two after games, as does manager Bud Black. I know of no rule that prohibits players from drinking beer in the clubhouse. I don’t believe Freeland has a sponsorship with Coors.


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