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29-06-11 07:27 Age: 2 yrs
TODD HELTON: HOW TO HIT THE BALL TO ALL FIELDSCategory: Top Stories
The Rockies' Superstar Gives His 5 Tips to Hitting to All Fields.
Todd Helton, first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, is not only one of the best active hitters in the Major Leagues but he ranks among the best in the history of the game. He is the fifth player in Major League history to hit at least 500 doubles and 320 homers with a batting average of .325 or better. The other four -- Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth -- are all in the Hall of Fame.
Helton, a native of Tennessee and a left-handed hitter, also posted some impressive statistics in the minor leagues after he was drafted by the Rockies in 1995. He hit .332 for New Haven in the Class AA Eastern League in 1996 and had an average of .352 in 71 at bats at the Class AAA level that year with Colorado Springs. And he hit .352 again with Colorado Springs in 1997, this time in 392 at bats, before he was in The Show for good later that year.
Helton is not your typical power hitter. He hits the ball to all parts of the field, and is very good at taking an outside pitch and hitting the ball the opposite way.
"I didn't really learn to pull the ball until I got to the big leagues," Helton recently told Junior Baseball. That's because as a young boy, Helton worked on drills that forced him to hit an outside pitch to left field.
He attended the University of Tennessee in his hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., and played both baseball and football at the school. In football he was teammates with Peyton Manning, now the star quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL. Helton was able to pitch and also hit during his college career and in 1995 for the Volunteers he was 8-2 with an ERA of 1.66 on the mound. He once threw 47.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run in college and set 19 school records at Tennessee. He was inducted into the state of Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
His hitting ability was too good to overlook by pro scouts. Helton was the college player of the year in 1995 and the top player in the Southeastern Conference when he hit .407 with 20 homers and 92 RBIs. He was drafted by the Rockies in the first round of the 1995 draft and hit .280 in 93 at bats during his first partial season in the big leagues in 1997.
Helton put up some impressive numbers in his first full season in the Major Leagues in 1998 with Colorado when he hit .315 with 25 homers and 97 RBIs. And that was just the beginning, as Helton became the first player in Major League history to bat at least .315 with 25 homers and 95 RBIs in his first seven full seasons in the big leagues, from 1998-2004.
He has become the face of the Colorado franchise, and his patience with the expansion team paid off in 2007 when he made his first appearance in post-season play with the Rockies. That year he hit .320 with 17 homers and 91 RBIs as the Rockies beat Philadelphia in the Division Series. Helton then helped Colorado beat Arizona in the League Championship Series, which earned the Rockies their first berth in the World Series. Helton hit .333 in the Fall Classic in 2007 against the Boston Red Sox but the Rockies lost the series in four games.
After a down year in 2008, when Helton had a sore lower back that put him on the disabled list for 60 days, he bounced back in 2009 with another strong season. He hit .325 with 15 homers and 86 RBIs for the Rockies, who surged in the second half of the season under new manager Jim Tracy and made the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Helton made his 13th straight Opening Day start in 2010, the second-longest streak with one team in the Major Leagues outside of Chipper Jones, who made his 14th straight start with Atlanta that same year.
Learning to go the opposite way is a critical skill to adopt as a hitter. Helton shared five tips on how to hit the ball where it is pitched and how to hit to the opposite field.
TO READ TODD HELTON'S 5 TIPS TO HITTING THE BALL TO ALL FIELDS, PICK UP A COPY OF THE MAY/JUNE 2011 ISSUE OF JUNIOR BASEBALL. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TODAY.