Todd Helton’s Hall of Fame vote looks like a “nail-biter”

Todd Helton is already a Rockies icon. On Tuesday he might become a baseball immortal.

The first baseman, who played all 17 seasons of his career in Colorado, will find out if he will be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He’ll await word with his family by his side at his home in his native Knoxville, Tenn.

The Hall of Fame announcement will come a little after 4 p.m. on the MLB Network.

“Of course I’m nervous,” Helton said Monday. “I just want to know one way or another.”

It’s going to be close. Players need to garner at least 75% of the vote from the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in order to be elected. As of Monday afternoon, Helton stood at 79.6%, with third baseman Scott Rolen right behind with 79.0%. That’s according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Baseball Hall of Fame Tracker, which tabulates the votes of the BBWAA members who choose to make their ballots public.

The Hall of Fame Tracker had counted 172 ballots, about 45% of the expected total.

Former closer Billy Wagner was just behind Helton and Rolen at 73.5%.

“It’s looking like a real nail-biter,” Thibodaux said. “Rolen is likely to be over 80%. Helton may be there as well if he’s able to maintain the rate of gained votes he’s had so far. He has some opportunities for “gained votes” among the remaining expected ballots.”

Thibodaux cautions, however, that the actual percentage of votes usually dips when the final totals are announced.

“As we know from past elections, both candidates’ final results are expected to be lower than what they show in the Tracker,” Thibodaux explained. “It’s just a question of how many of the late public and private voters flipped to ‘yes’ votes.

“Rolen seems to still have a slightly better shot than Helton due to having more existing support among the late public voters. But Helton isn’t far behind. It seems that both Rolen and Helton are destined to come in above 70%, but whether either or both can reach 75% is a coin flip at best.”

Helton is a five-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who had a .316 career batting average, rapped out 2,569 base hits and slugged 369 home runs. On the ballot for the fifth time, he has made dynamic jumps each year, rising from 16.5% in 2019 to 52% last year. If he doesn’t get elected this year, chances are very good that he will reach the 75% threshold in 2024 or ’25.

Helton’s candidacy got a boost by the 2020 induction of former Rockies teammate Larry Walker, who was elected in his 10th and final year on the ballot. Walker, the only Rockies player in the Hall, jumped from 54.6% to 76.6% in his final year to make it to Cooperstown.

Helton’s raw statistics would seem to pave his way to Cooperstown. He had a career batting average above .300, an on-base percentage above .400 and a slugging percentage above .500. In addition, he collected more than 2,500 hits, 1,400 runs and RBIs, and 300 home runs. Of the nine other players in major league history to reach all seven of those marks, only Manny Ramirez isn’t already a Hall of Famer.

However, because Helton played half of his games at the hitter’s paradise that is Coors Field, and because his numbers tailed off in the second half of his career, some voters consider Helton a great player but not worthy of the Hall of Fame.

Any candidates elected via the BBWAA ballot will be inducted along with Fred McGriff in a ceremony scheduled for July 23 in Cooperstown. McGriff, who hit 493 career home runs, was unanimously elected by the 16-member Contemporary Baseball Players Committee on Dec. 4.

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