What’s another 365 days, right?

In his fifth year on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, Todd Helton fell short by the smallest of margins, receiving 72.2% of votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. 

Helton was hoping to join Larry Walker as the second Colorado Rockie enshrined in Cooperstown, but missed the 75% threshold by 11 votes.

The narrow miss by Helton continues a promising trend of support for the man who wore no. 17. The increase of 20.2% was more than any other on the 28-player ballot and a staggering 55.7% more than he received during year-one in 2019. 

Fellow 17-year veteran Scott Rolen was the only member of the Class of 2023 selected by BBWAA voters, earning 76.3% or five more than the required 292 votes needed for election. Rolen began appearing on the ballot one year before Helton, so his support in year-six gives hope that the Rockies’ first baseman will also be a year-six inductee. 

When comparing the careers of Helton and Rolen, one thing is abundantly clear: Helton outperformed Rolen in nearly every offensive category. Other than stolen bases and triples, Helton is ahead in every counting stat and rate state.

Rolen did play a more skilled position at third base and won eight Gold Glove Awards at the hot corner, while Helton won three at a position regarded as one the deepest for producing the greatest hitters of all-time. (Conversely, Rolen becomes only the 18th third baseman in the Hall of Fame, fewest of any position.)

Tuesday’s results suggest Helton is a lock to reach 75% next year. Every player who has reached 60% by their fifth-year on the ballot has reached Cooperstown and over the last 15 years, six of seven players with 60% by year-five were voted in the next season. Only Trevor Hoffman needed a second year.

Jeff Kent received 46.5% of votes in his 10th and final season on the ballot while Billy Wagner (68.1%), Andruw Jones (58.1%) and Gary Sheffield (55.0%) all fell behind Helton in support. Carlos Beltrán had the largest vote total (181 votes, 46.5%) for players on their first ballot. Former Rockies closer Huston Street received one vote and will not appear on next year’s ballot as he did not reach the required 5% threshold.

Fred McGriff will also be inducted during the ceremony in Cooperstown, NY on July 23 as he was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee on December 4. The first baseman earned his way into the All-Star Game five times and won three Silver Slugger Awards during his 19-year career. 

According to JAWS, the system that evaluates players from the same position across various eras, McGriff is the 32nd-best first baseman of all-time, one of the lowest for Hall of Famers at the position. Helton’s ranking as the 15th-best at first base only only underlines the penalty that some voters place upon those who call Coors Field their home.

But hey, what’s another 365 days when you’ve already had to wait half a decade for what you deserve. 

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