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The Best Rookie Cards And Early Career Cards Of Todd Helton

Todd Helton

Update: Todd Helton narrowly missed induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame with over 72% of the vote (75% needed) while Scott Rolen is baseball’s newest Hall of Famer. Given Helton’s performance in 2023, should get there soon!

A bit of trivia: What former superstar has only one rookie card, and it appears five years before his major league debut and two years before he was even drafted?

The answer is Todd Helton. But who is Todd Helton? And what are Todd Helton’s best rookie cards? And what other early career Helton cards are worth chasing?

Shop for Todd Helton rookie cards on eBay.

Who is Todd Helton?

Todd Helton played his entire 17-year career with the Colorado Rockies. Helton was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger award winner, and 3-time Gold Glove winner. Helton put up a career line of .316/.414/.539, for an OPS of .953 and OPS+ of 133.

Todd Helton finished his career with a .316 career batting average. Only two players whose careers ended in the 21st century retired with a higher career average (min 3,000 PA). Those were Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Vladimir Guerrero Sr.

Todd Helton Hall of Fame

Todd Helton and the Hall of Fame

The connection to Colorado has some doubting his Hall of Fame credentials since the air there is thin and offensive higher than at other ballparks. But even when looking at things like this road numbers, ballpark adjusted status like OPS+ (133), the offensive numbers suggest a worthy Hall of Famer.

Helton’s 61.8 career WAR ranks 17th all-time along first basemen. While it is slightly below the average for HOF 1B (65.0), that number is skewed somewhat by Lou Gehrig (113.6) and Albert Pujols (101.7). Helton’s number is above a number of other first basemen already enshrined in the hall.

Add in Gold Glove defense at first base, and a picture of a complete player comes into focus.

Helton debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2019 and received 16.5% of the ballot. By 2022, that number had risen to 52%. As of this writing, his 2023 vote total is trending higher than that, suggesting eventual election to the hall.

Once Helton does eventually get elected to the Hall of Fame, you can expect a bump in the price of his rookie cards. The bump will be right around the announcement through the enshrinement ceremony. The initial bump will be temporary, but you can expect the cards to level out at a generally higher level than pre-election levels.

Shop for Todd Helton rookie cards on eBay.

Todd Helton baseball hall of fame

The Top Todd Helton Rookie Baseball Cards

As mentioned above, Helton has one mainstream rookie card, and one harder-to-find variation of that rookie card. We have Helton’s spot on Team USA in 1993 for this unique situation.

1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton #19T

 Todd Helton’s first card appearance is on a Team USA subset card from the 1993 Topps Traded set. Like most Topps Traded sets, this one was released in complete set form late in the season through hobby outlets. The Helton card accounts for 72% of all 1993 Topps Traded cards graded by PSA.

The Helton card has been graded close to 6,000 times, meaning it’s not rare. The card does sell strongly, and if and when Helton makes the Hall of Fame, you can expect a bump.

The card pre-dated Helton signing a pro contract by about two years, so Helton doesn’t appear on another card until 1995.

Shop for 1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton rookie card on eBay

1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1993 Topps Traded Todd Helton #19T5,988PSA 10 = 1,136PSA 10 = 125-225

1993 Bazooka Team USA Todd Helton #11

Looking for a more challenging, lower pop, and higher value option? Check out the 1993 Bazooka Team USA Todd Helton. It looks just like the Topps Traded card, except with a Bazooka logo in the upper right of the card front.

The cards were distributed in boxes of Bazooka chewing gum, so they’re a lot harder to come by today and the PSA population (and price) reflects this scarcity.

Shop for 1993 Topps Bazooka Todd Helton rookie card on eBay

1993 Topps Tood Helton Bazooka

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1993 Bazooka Team USA Todd Helton #11128PSA 9 = 53PSA 9 = $400

Todd Helton pre-rookie & minor league cards

Helton does not make any card appearances in 1994. He appears on some minor league and pre-rookie cards in 1995 and 1996.

The story here is generally low PSA populations (very slow in a few cases), but reasonable prices…when the cards become available.

The 1995 Asheville Tourists Update card appears to be quite rare, with very few graded copies, raw sets, or raw examples available. Shop on eBay.

The 1995 SP Top Prospects card is usually very condition sensitive, but with 109 PSA 9s they’re not an impossible find (there are only 6 PSA 10s). Shop on eBay.

The others are worth keeping an eye out for. If they come available at reasonable prices, their relative rarity makes them nice additions to a Helton collection, even if they’re not in high demand.

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1995 Asheville Tourists Update Todd Helton25PSA 8 = 14PSA 8 = $25-30
1995 Best Top 100 Todd Helton #126410PSA 9 = 344PSA 9 = $15
1995 Signature Rookies Tetrad Autograph Todd Helton #582NARaw = $35-65
1995 SP Top Prospects Todd Helton #112182PSA 9 = 109PSA 9 = $110
1996 Best AA All-Stars Todd Helton #17760PSA 10 = 181PSA 10 = $100-110
1996 Best New Haven Ravens Todd Helton #13162PSA 9 = 130PSA 9 = $20-40

Other early career Todd Helton cards

Helton makes his first of what I’ll call professional mainstream card appearances in 1996, in Topps and Bowman products.

There are two price points here, with the 1996 Bowman and 1996 Topps Flagship products being very affordable despite low PSA populations, and the 1996 Bowman’s Best and 1996 Topps Chrome offering higher-end options.

Being mid-90s releases, there are a variety of Power Boosters, Foil, Refractor, and other parallel versions available.

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1996 Bowman Todd Helton #37878PSA 9 = 33PSA 9 = $15-25
1996 Bowman’s Best Todd Helton #171117PSA 9 = 96PSA 9 = $100
1996 Topps Todd Helton #13191PSA 10 = 53PSA 10 = $40-45
1996 Topps Chrome Todd Helton #13230PSA 10 = 21PSA 10 = $500

Final thoughts on Todd Helton’s best rookie cards

Todd Helton’s rookie card presents a unique situation, being produced so long before his professional debut. This obviously wouldn’t be a rookie card by today’s standards, but the ’90s, oh the ’90s were a wild time.

What the unique rookie card situation does is make some of Helton’s other early career cards more appealing than one would expect for cards produced 2, 3, or 4 years after his first card appearance.

With recent vote totals suggesting a clear path to eventual election to the Hall of Fame, fairly low population numbers, and reasonable prices, Helton cards have a lot going for them and there’s likely a place for some early Helton cards in just about any collection.

Shop for Todd Helton rookie cards on eBay.

More Cardlines top baseball card rookie coverage

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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