Rockies to retire Todd Helton's number

Lisa Blumenfeld

No other Colorado player will ever wear No. 17.

The Colorado Rockies will retire Todd Helton's No. 17 uniform during a pregame ceremony in August, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports. Helton, who hung up his cleats after the 2013 season, will be the first player to have his number retired by the team in honor of his time in a Rockies jersey.

Helton spent his entire career, which coincidentally lasted 17 years, in Colorado. He is the Rockies' career leader in games played, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, singles, doubles, home runs, walks, sacrifice flies and bWAR. The ceremony to retire his number will occur on Aug. 17, three days before his 41st birthday.

The Rockies have retired two other numbers in the past, but Helton's will be the first tribute based on an individual's Colorado playing career. Jackie Robinson's No. 42 is honored by every team in the majors, and pitcher Darryl Kile's No. 57 was retired when the 33-year-old hurler, then a member of the Cardinals, passed away unexpectedly after suffering a heart attack during the 2002 season.

During Helton's prime, the five-time All Star was one of the best hitters in the game. His natural talent, combined with the explosive offensive environment of Coors Field, allowed him to reach gaudy career-highs of 49 home runs, 147 RBI, 138 runs, 59 doubles, 216 hits and 127 walks in various years. In 2000, he batted .372/.463/.698, although the fact that his MLB-leading 1162 OPS translated to only a 163 OPS+ provides context about his home park and the era in which he played.

Helton's overall body of work will likely put him on the fringe of the Hall of Fame debate. He racked up 369 home runs and 2,519 hits, batted 316/.414/.539,  walked 160 more times than he struck out and earned three Gold Gloves at first base. Baseball-Reference values his career at 61.3 bWAR, which is right around average for a Hall of Fame first baseman, but he will have to overcome the perception that he was a product of Coors Field (1048 career OPS at home, 855 on the road) in order to gain enshrinement. The team reached the playoffs only twice during his tenure, but he did help lead Colorado to its first World Series berth in 2007. Although the Rockies got swept in that Series by Boston, Helton hit .333 with a pair of doubles.

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