Toronto Blue Jays fans haven’t seen the best of Troy Tulowitzki and, as such, haven’t fully appreciated him.
Perhaps, we have not yet got to enjoy the best of Troy Tulowitzki. Slumps and injuries over a small sample size can do that for you. Perhaps limited exposure to the player out of Colorado limited the amount of excitement over the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays could call Tulo their own. It seems that, in some circles, Tulo being a Blue Jay received rather underwhelming excitement. What joy there was didn’t last very long as he was done in by Kevin Pillar‘s chin after struggling to live up to the player that is making $20M over the next 3 years and potentially another $29M after that.
There were plenty of other aspects of the 2015 season to look back on fondly. Heck, we nearly saw the AL MVP AND Cy Young winner come our of Toronto. The excitement over the accomplishments of 2015 should be giving way to anticipation of the season to come. And, part of what should have us chomping at the bit for the upcoming season is that we’re going to see Troy Tulowitzki start at short stop on Opening Day.
Here’s why this has me excited. First of all, his career totals are impressive, which some folks may not be aware of since he played so far away. He’s a career .297/.369/.508, 35.5 win hitter with a wRC+ of 123 who averages 23 home runs per season (when he plays 100 or more games- more on that in a bit). His career K rate is 16.4%. That’s all.
But, he’s aging, right? It’s true. He’s 31. But, let’s look at how he stacks up among the
younger other short stops in baseball. According to MLB.com, in 2015, Tulo ranked 2nd in baseball among qualifying SS with an average of .280, 2nd in OBP (.337), 2nd in SLG (.440), 4th in HR (17), 2nd in runs scored (77), and tied for 7th in doubles (27). He did all of this while finishing tied (with Ryan Goins, oddly) for 21st in games played at 128. Oh, and he ranked 5th with a fielding percentage of .985 and 11th in range factor at 4.25.
That’s not bad at all. But, I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted to compare Tulo against “the best”. I took those who may be considered the top short stops in MLB today based on the 2015 season. Carlos Correa, Brandon Crawford and Xander Bogearts were the 3 I chose. I excluded Andrelton Simmons because, while he’s probably the slickest SS with the glove, his bat is not so hot.
I went over to TheBaseballCube.com and used their handy player comparison tool to arrange these 4 SS. Here’s a shot of what it yielded:
Before we continue, I will acknowledge that this list is arbitrary and based on a general sense of the game’s best SS more than anything else. That said, it is a very interesting look.
Aside from Correa, Tulo played in fewer games than the others. Imagine what his numbers would look like if a) he had a full season and b) played in Rogers Centre for that full season. He is right up there among the best in just about every category. We should not be so quick to dismiss the value that Tulo brings to the Blue Jays. For further comparison, here are the WAR values for each player: Bogaerts- 4.3, Correa- 3.3, Crawford- 4.7, Tulo- 2.3.
The difference between the others and Tulo is pedigree. Crawford has steadily been improving over the last couple seasons, but hasn’t quiet reached the consistency of Tulo. And, as impressive as their 2015 seasons were, Correa and Bogaerts are going to have to repeat the success for a couple more seasons before we can talk about their pedigree. If they can maintain the kind of 5 win performance year in and year out that Tulo has, then we can talk.
Right now, Tulo remains one of the top players (not just short stops) in the game. The only knock that seems to be on him is the somewhat low hanging fruit of his injury history. And, I get that. But, the past injuries had to do with a variety of issues like his quads, broken wrist (HBP), groin, hips and shoulder blade. There is some solace in knowing that they aren’t repeat, lingering maladies. We can’t hold him responsible for getting beaned by a pitcher or Pillar’s chin. But, the others could add up to paint a picture…I suppose. But, for now, all signs point to health for Tulo. Focusing on the past only ignores what is in front of you. What is in front of Tulo is a clean slate in 2016.
For some reason, the combination of his salary and his status as a “name” in MLB mean that he’ll likely be the subject of trade speculation and fluff rumoring. But, the problem is that Troy Tulowitzki is better than a name to be dangled. With a full season ahead of him, Blue Jays fans will get to see the whole picture; they’ll get to see one of the best short stops in baseball play for their Toronto Blue Jays and be thankful for every game he plays. During his short tenure as a Blue Jay, Tulo has been under appreciated. That needs to end.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0