What to Expect From a Healthy Troy Tulowitzki


Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

If offered you Troy Tulowitzki as a second round pick right now, would you take it? On paper, it makes sense. We rank him as the 14th overall player while the good folks over at ESPN rank Tulo 16th.

The instinctive answer might be “No, not that early.” Tulo is a little too injury prone to take that high, isn’t he?

Why don’t we try this, then? Instead of asking if you’d take Tulo in the second round, let me ask if you’d take a shortstop that plays his home games in the best hitter’s park in the league, who more likely than not will hit at least .290 with a conservative estimate of about 22 homers. Would you take him then?

I sure would.

Now, I can guess what the more cynical people out there are thinking. How can I be so confident that a player with Tulo’s injury history will produce those kinds of numbers? Simple. More often than not, those are the kinds of totals that the Colorado Rockies shortstop has produced. [table id=454 /]

Above .290 in four of five seasons. The only time he wasn’t was 2012, when he just missed and didn’t play at all after May 30, meaning Tulo missed the entire summer of hot weather and tired pitchers.

The home run splits are even more consistent. That’s an AB per HR range of 19.6-20.5 in four of five seasons, with the same outlier year. How does that translate over a full season? Well, we don’t quite know what a “full season” is for Tulo, but let’s do this.

For the sake of being conservative, let’s say that he’s on the high end of the range you see above, even rounding up, meaning he’ll homer in one of every 21 plate appearances.

[table id=455 /]

If history is any indicator, Tulo should get to the aforementioned 22 home run range with somewhere between 450 and 500 plate appearances. Sure, injuries are a concern, but do we really think that Troy Tulowitzki won’t get to those fairly modest totals? Obviously if you don’t, then he’s not worth such an early draft pick. Personally, I’d say that he’s more than worth rolling the dice on.

Wait! We’ve only gone over two of five categories. Since recent numbers would tell us that anything more than two steals would be a victory, shouldn’t we spend a little bit of time on runs and RBI? Yes, we should.

They’re even a little more difficult to project, as we’re relying on teammates. Still, let’s look at what Tulowitzki has done

[table id=456 /]

The averages are a little more erratic, but let’s look at those last three years. In both cases, 2011 and 2013 were reasonably close and since 2012 was basically a lost season, I’ve got no issue throwing those numbers out. Now, let’s average 2011 and 2013 out and say make the run ratio one in every 7.3 plate appearances, and the RBI mark one in every six.

[table id=457 /]

You want to be careful using the past as a way to predict the future. But with a guy like Troy Tulowitzki, who’s generally been a pretty consistent producer when on the field, it’s not such a tough thing to do.

You’ve already seen our Draft Kit Projections, but let’s take another look at them, and also put the numbers above together, focusing on 500 and 550 plate appearances.

[table id=458 /]

So, let’s ask the same question. Would you take Tulo in the second round? Certainly, I’d like to get 550 plate appearances or more, but if I got the baseline of all of those stats, along with a .290 average (also baseline), I’d feel okay about using a second rounder on a Tulo. Getting that kind of production is just not that easy from a shortstop.

My biggest concern with Tulo is that he’ll be moved at some point and lose taking half of his at-bats in a park that’s not Coors Field. Earlier in the off-season, I explored the idea that him being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, and didn’t love the prospects. But remember a few things.

  1. Tulo has a huge contract and even with his talent and the amount of money in MLB today, that makes him hard to move.
  2. As I went over in the Cardinals piece linked above, Tulo has dismal career numbers in St. Louis, but his career numbers away from Coors Field aren’t that bad.
  3. Tulo seems to want to stay in Colorado.

It’s a concern, but not a massive one.

The other top shortstop options are Jean Segura (incomplete body of work, terrible second half in 2013) and Jose Reyes (a big injury history of his own). You also have Hanley Ramirez and Ian Desmond, who should both be off the board by the end of Round 3, and that’s at the worst. Troy Tulowitzki is in the same window. He’s easily a second rounder and I could even make a case that Tulo belongs in the first round, injuries and all.

Don’t let the injuries scare you away from taking Tulo. The numbers will be there.