In April and May, the talk of baseball was Troy Tulowitzki. I might be exaggerating a little, but it felt like Tulowitzki was finally getting the national recognition he has deserved for years. And then.. nothing, at least not in the national media. The reason for the sudden drop-off in attention is not due to a drop-off in play for Tulowtizki but rather a drop-off in play for the Colorado Rockies team.
On the last day of May, which was just about four weeks ago, the Rockies were 28-27 with a +30 run differential and squarely in the playoff race. And because the fact that they were in the race was a surprise, people in the national media had to frantically search for reasons for the success. The number one reason, of course, was Troy Tulowitzki: on the last day of May, Tulowitzki was hitting .352 with a 1.124 OPS. He was rightly being celebrated, and for every cynical “It’s only a matter of time before he gets injured,” there was a “Tulowitzki is having an all-time great offensive season for a shortstop.”
Yesterday, Troy Tulowitzki got on base in three of his four plate appearances. The Rockies lost 7-4. That, unfortunately, has become a common story line. Since the last day of May, the Rockies are 7-17. They have been the epitome of streaky, with eight losses in their first nine June games, followed by five straight wins, followed by nine losses in their last 10. It’s been ugly, and the national media has understandably turned its back on the Rockies. With a rotation of (gulp) Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek, Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Yohan Flande (just look that over again) and a June run differential of -46 in 24 games (they are basically losing the average June game by two runs), how could the media not turn its back on the Rockies?
But you know who hasn’t slumped in June? That’s right: Troy Tulowitzki. Yep, the guy who was awesome in the first two months of the season is still awesome today. He hasn’t fallen off a cliff, and he also hasn’t gotten injured. Tulo has played all but one of the Rockies’ June games, and is hitting .353 with a .433 on base percentage in those games. With at least three hits in the next four games, he will have more hits in June than he had in April or May.
Tulo’s power isn’t what it was in the first two months, as he has just four homers after hitting seven in each of the first two months. But besides the slight downturn in power, and that was expected as his seven homer per month pace was unsustainable, Tulowitzki is the same guy that he was in the first two months. Four weeks after the Rockies started slumping, Tulowtizki’s average is .352, or unchanged. His OPS is 1.072.
You wouldn’t know it, but Tulowitzki still leads the league in baseball reference WAR at 5.0. His fangraphs WAR is second only to a guy named Mike Trout, who generates new headlines every single day. If you prefer the advanced stats, Tulowitzki leads baseball with a .458 wOBA and 182 wRC+. If you like the traditional stats, he leads baseball with that .352 average and is second in the NL with 18 homers. So while the team has slumped, Troy Tulowitzki has continued to hit.
To be fair, it’s not like baseball has been sleeping on Tulo. He’s the leading NL all-star vote getter, and is surely leading the NL MVP race. So people in Colorado and elsewhere realize how well Troy Tulowitzki is doing, it’s just that he’s not as big of a story now as he was earlier in the season. That’s mainly due to the team’s well-documented struggles, and as the Rockies continue to fall out of the race and the trade deadline gets closer, Tulowitzki will continue to fade from the national spotlight. That makes sense and is fine, but it’s important to know that Tulo is still amazing, and with Trout as one of the best players in baseball.