Rockies will retire Todd Helton’s number 17

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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 Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/9/2014.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.