July 28th of 2015 was the start of the magical run by the Toronto Blue Jays and an explosion of euphoria engulfed fans across Canada. For the first time since 1993, the Blue Jays’ brass told their fans, and players, they were going for it! The first move was the trade that brought Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to Toronto. Obviously it was not that trade alone that brought the excitement of the fans, and talent to help the Jays rise to a division championship. Trades made later that week for Mark Lowe, Ben Revere and of course David Price propelled the baseball season to a new level.
There was some healthy skepticism of the Tulo trade, mostly because of loosing a fan favourite, Jose Reyes. The other Jose on the team even came out and stated, “we don’t need a shortstop,” but in Tulo’s debut with the Jays he quickly showed why he is a perennial all-star going 3-for-5 with a homer and two doubles. He also flashed a spectacular glove, consistently vacuuming up balls that previously would of ended up in the outfield. The Blue Jays got a player heralded as the best shortstop in baseball, but it is important to temper the fan’s expectations of Tulowitzki.
Tulo is now recovering from another injury and is on the disabled list but should be back soon. This is not an unusual occurrence. He has spent time on the disabled list nearly every year of his career, the exceptions being in 2007 and 2009. This is a guy who is injury prone. We should only expect 120-130 games from him. This is also why keeping Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins available is very important. Comparing him to Jose Reyes by games played, it is looking like Tulo is on the better side of the trade; Reyes is still hasn’t returned after being under suspension for assaulting his wife and has been designated for assignment. Tulo’s history of injuries were of concern when the trade was made.
The other big concern for Blue Jays’ fans is Tulo’s batting. This is where he is dramatically under performing, but he also might not be performing as bad as it appears. At the time of the trade, he had a career batting average of .299 and an OPS of .885. That’s a better OPS than shortstop Hall of Famers, Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken and Ernie Banks as well as future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. A closer look at Tulo’s career batting stats paints a slightly different picture. His away batting average is 40 points lower than his home, and his away OPS is 122 points lower. Also he has hit 25 fewer home runs and has 103 fewer RBI’s away from home.
With the exceptions of about 40 games in Toronto, all of those home games were played in the batter friendly, high altitude park in Colorado. Since 2010, Coors field has produced 142 runs for every 100 runs scored in the average major league stadium according to Park Factors. This makes Coors field the Number 1 producing park in the major leagues. Not all batters are effected by the Coors Field push. For example, Todd Helton’s career numbers show a small variance between home vs. away games, but the statistics show some batters are highly effected and Troy Tulowitzki is one of those players.
So what should Blue Jay fans expect from the bat of Tulo? It looks like he should hit about .270 and .808 OPS with about 20 home runs. He probably will not reach those numbers this year but this can be used as a baseline for the remaining of the season.
The final concern of Blue Jay fans could be his defense. His fielding percentage is also lower than his career numbers, but he is still showing the same phenomenal range as he has throughout is career as indicated in some fielding stats. It does sometimes look like he is simply missing the ball; maybe it is time for him to get his eyes checked? This also might help with his batting.
Troy Tulowitzki is showing he is close to the same player the Jays got in the trade. Compared to Jose Reyes, the Jays are still ahead in that trade. Tulo obviously has to improve on his batting, and cut down on the errors, but he cannot be expected to perform as the player he was in Colorado.
Troy Tulowitzki is the remaining player with the Blue Jays from that fabulous week of trades that brought so much excitement and so much talent to the Blue Jays. When Tulo comes off the DL the Blue Jay fans can expect more production from their shortstop and continue to see him vacuum the Roger’s Centre’s carpet with his glove, but their expectations should be tempered.