17 Days – Todd Helton
While you’re still looking for Major League Baseball’s next .400 hitter, now is a good time to let you know that Todd Helton hit exactly .400 on Opening Day. So we tip our hat to him, 17 days away from the MLB Opening Series March 22 in Sydney.
The Rockies will open the regular season March 31 at Miami, and it will mark the first time since 1997 that Helton, now retired, has not been in Colorado’s starting lineup. That was the year that Helton was an August call-up. After that, he was a warrior who proceeded to put up these Opening Day numbers, mostly having to begin on the road:
24-60, 9 runs, 5 RBIs, 11 doubles.
During that time, the Rockies went 9-7, playing 11 of their 16 openers on the road due to the Denver climate. His performances included game-winners, usually an RBI double in there somewhere, steadiness, and a 4-for-4 performance in a 2004 victory at Arizona, with the first three hits coming against D-backs fireballer Randy Johnson. Highlights:
98 – 2-for-4, RBI, 2 doubles, won at eventual NL champ Padres.
99 – 0-for-5, won at Padres.
00 – 1-for-4, 2-0 loss at Greg Maddux and Braves.
01 – 1-for-2, 2 runs, 2 BB, 8-0 win vs. Cardinals.
02 – 2-for-4, loss at Cardinals.
03 – 2-for-5, 1 run, double, loss at Astros.
04 – 4-for-4, 2 run, double, 6-2 win at D-backs.
05 – 1-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI, 12-10 walk-off win vs. Padres.
06 – 1-for-4, 1 RBI, double, 3-2 win vs. D-backs. That RBI double off Terry Mulholland in the bottom of the eighth was the big hit, tying it at 2-2 and forcing extras, won by Rockies in 11th.
07 – 2-for-4, double, 8-6 loss vs. D-backs.
08 – 2-for-4, double, run, 2-1 win at Cardinals. His double in eighth was the big hit, leading to the first run and then him scoring decisive run as they scored both runs that inning.
09 – 1-for-4, 9-8 loss at D-backs.
10 – 2-for-5, one run, double, 5-3 win at Brewers.
11 – 2-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI, 7-6 loss vs. D-backs.
12 – 1-for-4, RBI double, 5-3 win at Astros.
13 – 0-for-3, walk, 5-4 loss at Brewers.
His last Opening Day ended a personal 13-year hitting streak on Colorado curtain lifters. Now the Rockies move on in a new era, Justin Morneau their presumptive first baseman. It is a good time to pause and reflect on The Toddfather’s career, and as the debate begins over whether he will be Cooperstown-worthy, with his jersey number matching the number of years he spent with the same club, don’t forget to include his general Opening Day magnificence in the mix. It is just 1 of 162, to be sure, but it is the day that takes the first foot forward and with him it usually was a positive one. MLB Schedule | Tickets
The next one is a doozy. Who should be No. 16?