Troy Tulowitzki showcased his elite skills on a national stage this week. Between the Home Run Derby on Monday night and the All-Star Game itself on Tuesday night, Tulo showed fans on a national stage why he belongs in each and every conversation when it comes to the game’s elite players.
There wasn’t much to see with the Home Run Derby, I suppose, besides the manner in which Tulowitzki carried out his captain duties. He did deliver four home runs in the first round, displaying some of the raw power that makes him a singular talent at the shortstop position.
He appeared to take his captain duties very seriously. At least from the outside, it seemed like he built a team of home run hitters that was a combination of fan favorites, including his own first baseman Justin Morneau, and guys who could help the senior circuit win it.
In an event that is otherwise characterized by clowning around, high-fiving, and generally yucking it up among the league’s best, Tulowitzki was his usual intense self. He appeared to grind through his turns at the plate and was nowhere to be found in the shots of excited players in foul territory (at least not that I saw). The man is intense, and I suppose that came through in this event.
What I found to be the most successful part of Tulowitzi’s exposure the last few days was the fact that he was able to buck the Coors Field narrative. Even with a .417/.497/.748 slash line at home this season, each and every announcer who discussed Tulowitzki’s 2014 campaign was forced to begrudgingly accept that the Rockies’ shortstop would be great no matter where he played.
Tulowitzki played well in the All-Star Game itself: he went 1-3 and put together solid at-bats. In the first inning he struck out against Felix Hernandez. He then put together one of the better at-bats of the night against Yu Darvish, working the count, fouling off pitches, and eventually sending a line drive to left field. Unfortunately for him, that’s where Mike Trout was hanging out last night.
Finally, he had his moment of glory against Max Scherzer in the fifth inning. Using the big part of the field as he does so well, Tulo sent a double off the right-center field wall. From there Tulo found himself in a predicament, however: as we know all too well, this new “stay healthy” version of Tulo does not run very fast. The throw from Jose Bautista beat him to the base comfortably, but Tulo got creative with his slide and avoided the tag.
With the injuries that have marred previous appearances in this game for Tulowitzki, it made me happy to see him get his due during the All-Star game festivities. It can be a sore spot for me as a Rockies fan, as I’m guessing it is for many, when we feel like our guys do not get enough credit. I was thrilled to see Tulo get the credit he deserved.
It has to be acknowledged, however, that him getting that credit was often accompanied by the usual talk in which analysts all but wish a trade that sends Tulowitzki out of Colorado. But hey, small victories, right?