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Andy Behrens

The curious case of Todd Helton

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If you've read a fantasy pick-up column lately, then you've probably heard that Todd Helton(notes) is having a nice year -- a vintage year, in fact.

Helton is batting .343, which would be the fourth highest single-season average of his career. He has 10 multi-hit efforts in his last 15 games. Helton is on pace for 17 homers and 103 RBIs, too.

Without question, he should be owned in mixed formats. If he's available, get him. He's a free agent in 30 percent of PLUS leagues.

This also happens to be a case where you can use fantasy hype to your advantage. At the moment, Helton is an excellent trade chip. (And yes, it's possible for a player to be both a recommended pick-up and a sell-high candidate). Back in March, when he was on a spring binge, this was our official position:

If [Helton] carries the spring performance into April, you'll have a respectable brand-name to throw on the trading block. Take the early profit, then cash out.

The Helton brand-name is unusually strong right now. He's hitting a ton, and the fantasy community seems to be convinced that October surgery resolved Helton's back issues. But that's not exactly the way the 35-year-old first baseman puts it.

Last week he told the Denver Post, "It's still a battle, don't get me wrong." The Post also reported that Helton sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber in an effort to, um ... well, he seems happy with the results, whatever they are.

"It definitely takes away some of the soreness," he said.

OK. So we know there's still soreness, and Helton is battling. His BABIP is also 38 points higher than his career rate while his line-drive percentage is slightly lower. At this point, I'm looking to take my profit on Helton, and I'm willing to risk the possibility that he'll continue the 80-17-100-.340 pace. Never fall in love with a stock, as they say.

In recent Yahoo! trades, Helton has been used as the key piece in multi-player deals for Miguel Cabrera(notes), Prince Fielder(notes) and Mark Teixeira(notes). He's also been swapped straight-up for Derek Jeter(notes) and Carlos Quentin(notes). Those returns really aren't too shabby, considering that Helton was either a final round pick in your draft or a free agent add.


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