Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Troy Tulowitzki reclaims best shortstop title

The only thing that has kept Troy Tulowitzki from acclaim as baseball's best shortstop has been his propensity to get injured. He only played 47 games in 2012. He won Silver Slugger Awards in 2010 and 2011 as the best hitter for his shortstop position despite missing forty games in 2010 and another 19 in 2011. Despite missing those 59 games in 2010 and 2011, he was still a 6 WAR player. If he can dodge this injury thing in 2013, he has a chance to be the National League MVP. He is that good.

How good is Troy Tulowitzki when he is healthy? How about a career .373 wOBA? How about a career ISO of .212? His career triple slash line of .292/.364/.504 puts him among the best of the game, never mine his position.

He is a very patient hitter who also does not swing and miss very often. He has a 6.4% swing and miss rate for his career, but that figure has been under five for the past two seasons. He waits for a pitch he likes better than most too as his swing percentage is also among the lowest at 43.6%. He will walk between nine and ten percent of the time and only strikes out 15.7% for his career. He only struck out 9.4% of the time in his brief 2012.

His home runs per fly ball have always been in double digits for a percentage. The only flaws in his offensive game is that he hits as surprisingly high percentage of pop flies to the infield (13.4% for his career) and hits slightly more ground balls than fly balls. Well...and yeah, the injury thing.

Combine Troy Tulowitzki's offensive prowess as a shortstop with his fielding and you get a superstar. Well...that is until you get to 2012 where he was rated slightly below average in the field. That was probably a one year blip because his defensive metrics have always been excellent. It seems certain that if Tulowitzki had been able to stay healthy for the full season, he would have pulled the defensive metrics back where they usually are.

Of course, Tulowitzki will always get a bit of stink eye because he plays his home games at Coors Field. And sure, his career OPS at home is nearly a hundred points higher than his road OPS. But his road OPS is still .812 and that is pretty darned good.

Despite the fact that it has seemed like Troy Tulowitzki has been around for a long time, He is heading only into his Age 28 season, so he is just reaching his prime as a player.

Because of his injury past, it seems that projections for 2013 are conservative for him. Here are some of them with the biggest ones on top:

  • Bill James - .298/.372/.522 with 28 homers
  • Baseball Prospectus - .292/.370/.524 with 28 homers
  • Steamer - .300/.374/.540 with 23 homers
  • ZiPS - .294/.365/.535 with 23 homers

Only Bill James and Baseball Prospectus expect him to get a full playing season in. The rest have him missing games and that is fair considering his history.

But if Tulowitzki plays 155 games, he will hit over .300, hit over 30 homers and will be an MVP candidate with his combination of batting, position and fielding skills. Those projections that predict WAR give him a range of 5.5 to 6 as a projection for 2013. If he stays healthy, I don't see why that can't be pushed up to seven or seven and a half.

Troy Tulowitzki is one of the most talented players in baseball. Unfortunately, injuries have robbed us of far too much of his playing time. It would be great if he can play 155 times this season. Well...if would be great unless you were an opposing pitcher.

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