Jays From the Couch brings you a look at what to expect from Toronto Blue Jays SS, Troy Tulowitzki in 2017.
With Spring Training workouts under way, it is the time of year where we start to get excited about the upcoming season. Baseball is back! In looking ahead, there will be lots of chatter about what we can expect from certain players. To that end, we’ll be taking a look at the different projections for the Toronto Blue Jays to give you an idea of what you can look forward to.
Here, we’ll be discussing beloved Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, his 2016 season and projections for 2017. After dealing with a blindside trade at the 2015 deadline and battling a scapula injury through September, Tulowitzki had a rough go of his first partial season in Toronto, gladly entering the 2016 season with plenty to prove.
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It’s hard to think of Troy Tulowitzki as an average shortstop offensively, but since he arguably changed the position in the early part of the decade from light-hitting glove-first gamers to light-tower power offensive dynamos, he’s fallen a bit behind to leaders of the shortstop pack in Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager. That’s not a dig at Tulo himself, as most fans were plenty pleased with a 24 HR and 79 RBI, not to mention stellar defense from a 32-year old shortstop.
Not surprisingly, the projections provided by the ever-outstanding Fangraphs aren’t too far a cry from what Tulowitzki did in 2016. But let’s get the bad out of the way first: Fangraphs sees Tulowitzki as a poor baserunner, with only marginal improvements from his 2016 ratings. This is the hardest piece of the projections to accept. He’s never been much of a burner and certainly doesn’t seem to be a liability on the base paths, but it’s difficult to see him put in a noticeably better baserunning season in 2017 with yet another year on his legs.
As a Blue Jay, Tulowitzki’s walk rate has dropped, but all three projections see a rebound for the coming season. Walk rate as well. In fact, the projection systems see jumps in just about every category aside from HR and RBI. If a more well-rounded Tulo is in the cards in 2017, the Jays would gladly take that in exchange for a handful of home runs.
Fortunately for the Jays, Tulowitzki will serve as an important cog in the 2017 machine but the lineup is plenty deep enough to compete with a similar effort to 2016. While the loss of Edwin Encarnacion strained the right side of the lineup for power, bringing in Kendrys Morales to balance the lineup certainly helps. Returning Jose Bautista will retain plenty of power in itself, and Steve Pearce should help out a decent amount as well.
Of course, so much of Tulowitzki’s value comes from his glove and not his bat. While the bat is nothing to be offended by, Tulo’s refusal to age out of the shortstop position certainly aids in his value. Not only does the flash remain after 11 MLB seasons, but his range has seen little regression, consistently posting UZR/150 ratings in the positive in all but three of his years. And all of that goes without mentioning his jump in UZR from 3.9 in 2015 to 4.9 in 2016 – as well as a a similar 5 to 10 jump in DRS from 2015 to 2016.
The projections do factor in the defensive side of things, and the solid forecasts for Tulowitzki include a regression in defense. That being said, all three of the projections above see Tulowitzki even to or surpassing his value of 2.8 fWAR in 2017, with the FANS projection predicting a 3.8 fWAR return to glory for the big shortstop.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0– cropped from original
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.