November 15, 2017

Will The Real Tulo Ever Arrive In Toronto?

Troy Tulowitzki still trying to regain his stroke with the Blue Jays

One of the biggest enigmas for the Blue Jays in the last couple of years has been Troy Tulowitzki. There have been many theories as to why Jays fans aren’t seeing the “real” Troy Tulowitzki but most are unfounded.

When the Jays acquired Tulowitzki, just prior to the 2015 trade deadline, it was met with much excitement from the fan base. They had just picked up a career .300 hitter, who also happened to be one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball and at the same time, they had found someone to take Jose Reyes off their hands.

His first impression was memorable. 3 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles and 3 RBI’s. In fact, over his first 9 games with the Jays, he was hitting .303 and was making plays that Reyes hadn’t. The love affair had begun and the Tulo chant resonated even on the road, from the many travelling fans.

However he hit just .223 over the final 32 games, and slumped when he incurred a freak injury following a collision with Kevin Pillar. He then heated up again in the ALCS. Very few were concerned moving forward that he wasn’t going to return to being a .300 hitter in 2016. That never did happen, in fact he battled with the mendoza line until mid June. He was much better in the 2nd half, but still not the same guy he was for years in Colorado.

2017 was marred by injury, including a nasty ankle sprain, that ended his season. He hit better this season, but still not up to the standards he had previously set. In 1048 games with the Rockies, he hit .299. In 238 games with the Jays, just .250.

So the question is, can he ever become the hitter he was for so long in Colorado, and what the hell has happened to him since the trade? There is no easy answer.

The most common theory is that he took advantage of the high altitude, in one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball. Yes, he did reap the benefits of Coors Field. His numbers there are higher than his career averages (.320, .949 OPS). Here’s where that theory has holes. His numbers were even better in other stadiums.

Great American Ballpark: Cincinnati .372 Ave 1.161 OPS

Miller Park: Milwaukee                        .357 Ave 1.052 OPS

Citizen’s Bank: Philadelphia               .342 Ave 1.012 OPS

PNC Park: Pittsburgh                          .356 Ave  934 OPS

Yes I know, the sample sizes are much smaller, but the bottom line is, he could hit in many other stadiums. When it comes to the Coors Field effect, I don’t see how it can have that big of an impact on him finding holes, driving the ball to all fields and avoiding strikeouts.

The next theory is that he’s simply washed up and injury prone. He’s only 32 years-old. That’s not young, but by no means is that over the hill. As for being injury prone, other than 2012, when a groin injury cost him all but 47 games and 2014, when he missed 64 games after hip surgery, he’s been pretty durable. He’s had 8 seasons with over 100 games. This year’s ankle injury was a fluke and not a reflection of his durability.

Some have suggested the Jays cut their losses and “get rid” of him. That’s not going to happen. Not only is he still capable of being an impact player, and a clubhouse leader, he’s also signed through the 2021 season with a total of 69 million dollars owed to him. That’s not a contract you can simply eat or trade.

The fact is, Troy Tulowitzki is going to be a Blue Jay for the foreseeable future. Will he ever be the player he was for 10 seasons in Colorado? Nobody knows the answer to that, but he’s going to be given the opportunity to at least give it another try in 2018.

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