He is, at the very least, a distressed asset. Helton may even qualify as a toxic asset.
But he's not completely without value. The rehab from back surgery seems to have gone well. Helton is 8-for-23 so far this spring, and he's hit four homers in nine games. In his first plate appearance back on March 8, he hit a 450-foot bomb off the Padres' Chris Young.
Naturally, we have encouraging quotes:
“Every game I play, (the doubt) goes away,” Helton said. “It’s been a good spring, a fairly easy spring for me. They’ve done a really good job of letting me get some days off and have some recovery days. That’s helped out a lot.”
I did not expect Helton to rebound this quickly from late-September back surgery. He looks strong, his bat looks quick. If you'd asked me Feb. 14 if Helton could hit 25 homers this season, I'd have said no way. Now I say yes.
You're still not drafting Helton as a public league starter, of course. Only one expert ranked him among the top 30 first basemen. And 25 homers is a fairly optimistic total; Helton hasn't actually reached that number since 2004.
Still, it no longer seems crazy to project rates like those he delivered in 2006: .302/.404/.476. That should put him in the CI/Util discussion in larger mixed leagues. Helton is buried in the Yahoo! pre-draft ranks (No. 901), so there's no need to dredge him up before the final rounds. If he 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.
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