Colorado Rockies: Todd Helton Robbed, and the 2000 NL MVP Voting Proves It
Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton was unfairly denied the National League MVP award for the 2000 season. What led voters to snub him?
I will get right to the point because this is a topic that has bothered me for years. Todd Helton was the 2000 NL MVP. He may not have the physical award in his trophy case, but make no mistake, he won the award.
As some of you know, Giants second baseman Jeff Kent took home the hardware that year. However, Jeff Kent did not beat out Todd Helton. Todd Helton was beaten out by what I like to call the “Coors Field Curse.” It is without question the only logical explanation for such a horrendous voting oversight.
How about we play a little game? Below is a list of the offensive numbers produced by the top five finishers in the 2000 NL MVP Voting. I will leave the name column blank. After you review these seasons rank them from one to five based on what you see.
Have you made up your mind? Ok, now let’s fill in those blanks based on the order that they finished.
Yes, you are reading that right. The player that led the NL in Avg, RBI, Hits, OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR came in fifth in the voting. To add insult to injury, Helton also led the major leagues in doubles. As a matter of fact, Helton’s 59 two-baggers in 2000 are the most that any player has had in 80 years and the seventh-most in a season in the history of baseball. Helton’s 103 extra base hits also led baseball in 2000 and rank sixth all-time for most in a season. His Avg, RBI, OPS and SLG also led all of baseball and not just the NL in 2000. Lastly, Helton produced the highest win probability by an offensive player in all of baseball in 2000.
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Offensively, I think that things are pretty clear. Defensively, Helton was no slouch either. He won the Gold Glove in 2001 and in 2002 but was beaten out in 2000 by J.T. Snow. The average fielding percentage for first basemen in the NL in 2000 was .992. Helton had a .995 fielding percentage in 2000.
When you look at the stats, the answer is almost comically obvious as to who the NL MVP was in 2000. The answer as to why it was not Helton is also just as clear. The voters penalized Helton for playing in Coors Field due to its thin air and travel rates of batted balls. The perception is that all offensive numbers put up in Colorado must be tainted due to a thin air effect. Last time I checked, thin air did not put the bat on the ball. However, this is how the voters saw it and the rest is history.
Most fans know that the last time a player hit .400 in a season was 1941 and that player was Ted Williams. What most do not know is that Williams did not even win the MVP that year. Williams was beat out by some guy named Joe DiMaggio. Coincidentally, 1941 was also the year that Joey D hit safely in 56 straight games. At least there was a legitimate argument to be made in 1941.
Todd Helton was basically robbed of the 2000 NL MVP award because voters seemed to think that he had an unfair offensive advantage. The irony in all of this is that in 2001 the same voters gave the award to a 36-year-old Barry Bonds who hit 73 home runs due to a slightly different offensive advantage. Excuse me while I laugh hysterically at the hypocrisy.