todd helton getty

Rockies will retire Todd Helton’s number 17


For the first time since 1997, the Rockies will have a full-time first baseman not named Todd Helton. Helton announced his retirement in September, ending a 17-year Major League career. His Hall of Fame case will be debated in earnest the closer we get to 2018. For now, as Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports, the Rockies will honor Helton by retiring his number 17 on August 17.

[Helton] will become the first Rockie to receive the honor for his playing career in a pregame ceremony at Coors Field on Aug. 17, fitting for No. 17.

It will conclude “Retire 17” weekend. The three-day event begins with a Todd Helton Farewell bobblehead on Aug. 15 for the first 15,000 fans. Saturday will feature Helton collectible jerseys, and Sunday will include the ceremony and Helton bobblehead gnomes for 15,000 fans.

Helton had a ridiculous five-season run from 2000-04 in which he posted an aggregate .349/.450/.643 line. He led the league in all three triple-slash categories in 2000 and blasted 49 home runs in ’01. He retires with a career .316/.414/.539 line, one of just 17 players since 1901 (min. 7,500 career plate appearances) in the .300/.400/.500 club:

Player Year BA OBP SLG PA From To
Todd Helton 2013 .316 .414 .539 9453 1997 2013
Albert Pujols 2013 .321 .410 .599 8546 2001 2013
Chipper Jones 2012 .303 .401 .529 10614 1993 2012
Manny Ramirez 2011 .312 .411 .585 9774 1993 2011
Frank Thomas 2008 .301 .419 .555 10075 1990 2008
Larry Walker 2005 .313 .400 .565 8030 1989 2005
Edgar Martinez 2004 .312 .418 .515 8674 1987 2004
Stan Musial 1963 .331 .417 .559 12717 1941 1963
Ted Williams 1960 .344 .482 .634 9788 1939 1960
Mel Ott 1947 .304 .414 .533 11348 1926 1947
Jimmie Foxx 1945 .325 .428 .609 9676 1925 1945
Lou Gehrig 1939 .340 .447 .632 9663 1923 1939
Rogers Hornsby 1937 .358 .434 .577 9480 1915 1937
Babe Ruth 1935 .342 .474 .690 10622 1914 1935
Harry Heilmann 1932 .342 .410 .520 8966 1914 1932
Ty Cobb 1928 .366 .433 .512 13082 1905 1928
Tris Speaker 1928 .345 .428 .500 11992 1907 1928
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/9/2014.

Game 2 is going to be the poster child for pace of play arguments this winter

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Zach McAllister #34 of the Cleveland Indians is relieved by manager Terry Francona during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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In August, it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to implement pitch clocks, like those in use in the minor leagues for the past two seasons, to improve the pace-of-play at the major league level. You can bet that last night’s Game 2 will the lead argument he uses against those who would oppose the move.

The game was moved up an hour in order to get it in before an impending storm. By the time the rain finally started falling the game had been going on for three hours and thirty-three minutes. It should’ve been over before the first drop fell, but in all it lasted four hours and four minutes. It ended in, thankfully, only a light rain. The longest nine-inning game in postseason history happened a mere two weeks ago, when the Dodgers and Nationals played a four hour and thirty two minutes. There thirteen pitchers were used. Last night ten pitchers were used. Either way, the postseason games are dragging on even for those of us who don’t mind devoting four+ hours of our night to baseball. It is likely putting off more casual fans just tuning in for the Fall Classic.

It’s not all just dawdling, however. Yes, the pitchers worked slowly and a lot of pitching changes took place, but strikeouts, walks and the lack of balls in play contribute to longer games as well. We saw this both last night and in Game 1, which was no brisk affair despite each starting pitcher looking sharp and not working terribly slowly. Twenty-four strikeouts on Tuesday night had a lot to do with that. Last night featured 20 strikeouts and thirteen — thirteen! — walks. It’s not just that the games are taking forever; the very thing causing them to drag feature baseball’s least-kinetic forms of excitement.

But no matter what the cause for the slower play was — and here it was a combination of laboring pitchers, the lack of balls in play and, of course, the longer commercial breaks in the World Series — Manfred is likely to hold Game 2 up as Exhibit A in his efforts to push through some rules changes to improve game pace and game time. So far, the centerpiece of those efforts is the pitch clock, which has proven to be successful and pretty non-controversial in the minor leagues. It would not surprise me one bit if, at this year’s Winter Meetings in Washington, a rule change in that regard is widely discussed.

Kyle Schwarber is the feel-good story of the 2016 postseason

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26:  Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after hitting an RBI single to score Ben Zobrist #18 (not pictured) during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Two of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Most baseball fans and even the Cubs had resigned themselves to most likely not seeing Kyle Schwarber in game action until spring training next year after he suffered a gruesome knee injury in a collision with teammate Dexter Fowler back in early April. Schwarber suffered a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg.

To the surprise of everyone, including manager Joe Maddon, Schwarber was cleared by doctors to play if the Cubs wanted to put him on the World Series roster. So they did. And, boy, are they glad they did it. In preparation, Schwarber saw over 1,000 pitches from machines and pitchers in the Arizona Fall League.

Schwarber essentially crammed for the final exam and unlike most students who do it, it has panned out well thus far. No one was expecting him to look outstanding against Indians ace Corey Kluber in Game 1, but in his first at-bat — his first in the majors since suffering the injury in April — Schwarber worked a 3-1 count before eventually being retired on strikes. Schwarber came back up in the fourth and drilled a Kluber sinker to right field for a two-out double.

In the seventh inning, facing one of the American League’s two scariest left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Schwarber worked a full count before drawing a walk. During the regular season, Miller walked exactly one lefty batter. Schwarber made it two. Schwarber would face Miller again in the eighth, going ahead 2-1 before ultimately striking out. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss. Considering the circumstances, that’s amazing.

Schwarber continued his great approach in Game 2 in what turned out to be a 5-1 victory. He struck out against Trevor Bauer in the first inning, but returned to the batter’s box in the third inning and singled up the middle to knock in the Cubs’ second run. Schwarber made it 3-0 in the fifth when he singled up the middle again, this time off of Bryan Shaw, to make it 3-0. Facing Danny Salazar in the sixth, Schwarber drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on first and second base with two outs. Finally, he struck out against Dan Otero in his eighth-inning at-bat, finishing the evening 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and a walk.

But now, as the Cubs return to Chicago for World Series Games 3, 4, and 5 at Wrigley Field, they have to contest with National League rules, a.k.a. no DH. Will Maddon risk Schwarber’s subpar defense to put his dangerous bat in the lineup? Even if Schwarber is not put in the starting lineup, he can at least serve as a dangerous bat off the bench late in the game when the Indians send out their trio of relievers in Shaw, Miller, and closer Cody Allen. At any rate, what Schwarber has done already in the first two games of the World Series is mighty impressive.