Todd Helton will retire from baseball at the conclusion of this season, the Rockies' longtime franchise player told Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Helton told Renck he unofficially decided during Spring Training that 2013 would be the end of his career (and hinted about it at the time) and while he pondered continuing playing due to improved health, the veteran slugger has now made the choice to hang up his cleats after 17 Major League seasons.
"It just seems like it's time. It's a young man's game. I am 40 years old," Helton said. "I am looking forward to doing something else besides baseball. Whatever that may be. I am not sure yet."
Helton entered Saturday's action with a .244/.316/.407 line, 13 homers and 51 RBI in 386 PA. He has had a few more injury issues this season and had mostly settled into a part-time role with the Rockies, which Helton said he could've continued in for a few more seasons but felt it was time to walk away:
"If I could play 81 games at home next year, I could do it. I could do it for a couple of more years. And if they had the games scheduled for the same time so I could get a sleeping pattern, I would have a chance. I am sure come next February, probably even in December when it's usually time to start getting ready, it will be tough."
Helton was a two-sport star at the University of Tennessee, serving as the Volunteers' quarterback before a knee injury opened the door for a rather heralded backup (Peyton Manning) to take the job and never look back. Helton turned his full attention to baseball and was selected by the Rockies as the eighth overall pick of the 1995 draft. The left-handed slugger spent his entire career in Colorado and is the franchise's leader in virtually every counting stat, including homers, hits, walks, runs, total bases, doubles, RBIs, games played, at-bats, plate appearances,
With a resume that includes 367 homers, 2504 hits, 1394 RBIs and a .317/.415/.539 slash line, Helton will certainly receive some serious Hall of Fame consideration in five years' time. His Cooperstown critics will argue that Helton was aided by playing at Coors Field (a career 1.048 OPS in home games), though Helton still posted an impressive .856 OPS over his career in away games. This perception that he was partly a creation of Denver's thin air dogged Helton throughout his career, as he never finished higher than fifth in NL MVP voting.
Helton has earned just shy over $161.5MM during his career, according to Baseball Reference. The bulk came from his nine-year, $141MM extension signed before the 2001 season, and in March 2010, Helton signed an extension that covered the 2012-13 seasons that included deferring some money from his previous deal.