A quarter of the way through the 2013 baseball season already. The Rockies are in first place and a pleasant surprise. Thanks to a rough start to the month of May I personally overreacted and got ready for the downward spiral. With one week left in the month Colorado has matched its win total from May of 2012 and come back from losing 6 of 7 series played between April 23rd and May 15th. Thankfully the Ides of May brought San Francisco to town and three Colorado wins in four tries, followed by a series victory against Arizona.
No Rockies fan should complain, considering that this time last year the team was in fourth place and 11 games under .500. But I am going to find a reason. The goal of each team every year is to win a World Series, which might not be realistic, but nobody tries to earn the first draft pick. The Rockies are not doing enough to be an elite team. After a good season, Denver becomes as good a baseball town as any (except St. Louis). After a bad season, Denver pays more attention to the Broncos’ Training Camp.
Coming into this year manager Walt Weiss developed some type of plan to keep Troy Tulowitzki healthy for the full season. It really only consisted of scheduled off days and a press interview to discuss it. Tulo has started about 80% of the teams games so far this year; 38 out of 47. He only had 47 total appearances in last year’s injury plagued season. If he keeps on that pace he will start around 129 games at shortstop this season.
The most games Tulo has played in a season was 155 in his rookie qualifying season of 2007. In case you don’t remember that was the only season the Rockies have ever won the National League Pennant, and Troy received votes for both the NL Rookie of the Year and NL Most Valuable Player awards. The two time all-star received MVP votes in three additional seasons since then, from 2009-2011.
So in the four seasons that Tulo was the best shortstop in the game the fewest amount of games he appeared in was 129 in 2010. In that year he finished fifth in the MVP voting while the other two NL all-star shortstops received exactly zero total votes themselves. When Joey Votto is fending off Albert Pujols for the MVP award, fifth place does not sound so bad.
This season Tulo is hitting a career high .338, and despite missing some time he is second in the NL in RBIs with 38. He will have some competition when is comes to starting the All Star Game thanks to Jean Segura, and could possibly lose the silver slugger too. Not important when it comes to team success. Do the math when it comes to the games he is missing: he is averaging an RBI per start and he would be on pace for a career high 35 home runs in a 150 start season. Tulo has appeared in 143 games or more in three of his six full seasons in the big leagues; obviously injuries are an issue.
When you weight out all the circumstances and Tulo’s history you can draw your own conclusions on the Rockies’ season. It is obvious that the shortstop’s health is linked to the team’s success and that Tulo will be needed in the playoffs. The concerns are numerous: primarily an experienced Giants team that can make up a three game deficit against a team that left themselves vulnerable by resting too many starters. Good thing it is still a long way to go for the paranoid fan.