Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If Not Tulo, Then Who?

Keith Law was just one dissenter in the seven year extension the Rockies just bestowed (or are about to bestow) on Troy Tulowitzki. The signing means that the Rockies have Tulowitzki locked up until the 2020 season with an option for 2021. The prevailing opinion is that the deal is too long and contains too much risk. The Fan disagrees and Tulowitzki is probably the only player on the market where the Fan would make this length of a deal.

Keith Law compared the contract to the Ryan Howard deal for incredulity. But Howard doesn't add the value that Tulowitzki does.  There is nobody in baseball like Tulowitzki. He stands alone as the best shortstop in the game today. He has it all. He hits for power. He hits for average. And he is superb at his position. That combination exists to any degree in one other shortstop in baseball: Stephen Drew and Drew's numbers don't compare to Tulo's. These two shortstops were the two of the three regular shortstops in the majors that were in the plus column for both hitting value and fielding value. Uribe was the other (though just barely).

There were only five shortstops that finished above the zero line in value on offense: Tulowitzki, Drew, Hanley Ramirez, Uribe and Jose Reyes. And Tulowitzki was on top of the list with a 31.9. Hanley Ramirez was a distant second (in an off year) at 25.9.  Drew was third at 13.0.

There were only eight shortstop in the majors that ended up with a value of over $10 million in 2010. We are not exactly in the golden age of shortstops. And to have so many shortstops under $10 million in value despite getting a 7.5 positional punch and a 20 replacement punch and that's pretty sad. According to the value charts, Derek Jeter was the ninth highest rated shortstop despite what many consider to be a terrible season.

In short, players like Tulowitzki don't come around very often. And when you compare shortstops around baseball as apposed to first baseman, where there are at least fourteen that are seriously productive, Tulowitzki is the cream of the crop.

Many have taken great pains to point out how expensive Tulowitizki will be in the back end of this deal. But if you factor in his value over the life of the next ten years, the Rockies should get their money's worth because they are getting a bargain for the next four years. For example, he will make around $5 million in 2011 and he was worth almost $26 million in 2010 even though he missed some playing time.

Baseball Prospectus projects Tulowitzki as a $28 million dollar player in 2011, $26.5 million in 2012 and sliding down about $1.3 million a year every year after that. According to their projections, he should still be worth $19.5 million in 2018. If you added all that value up, according to their projections, Tulowitzki's values should come almost dead on with what he is being paid. The only real risk, according to BP is in the last two years of the contract and the Rockies have already taken care of that in 2020 when only $14 million is guaranteed.

The only real precedent for this deal at this position is Derek Jeter. And Jeter arguably played terrific in eight of the ten years of his contract. The Fan thinks that the Rockies would be happy with similar results from Tulowitzki and Tulo is a much better fielder than Jeter ever was and he has much more power.

To sum up the Fan's feelings on all of this, Tulowitzki is the best player at a position that does not have a lot of talent around the majors. The projections on Tulo seem to add up to what he will be making. That combination seems to be a sweet deal for both Tulowitzki and for the Rockies and certainly for the fans of the Rockies.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Best all-around shortstop in baseball. Just now entering his prime. Definitely a franchise player.