Imagining Troy Tulowitzki in a Rockies uniform by the start of 2015 is tough to envision.
Seeing Tulowitzki hoist the National League MVP trophy at the end of the season is becoming just as unrealistic.
You could argue that Tulo has been one of the best players in baseball up to this point of the season – and the numbers alone make your case. The 2014 All-Star leads the NL in batting average (.340), on-base percentage (.432) and slugging percentage (.603) while ranking third in home runs (21) in 91 games.
Keeping with those averages, Tulowitzki is projected to play in 142 games, hit 33 home runs and have 81 RBI.
Not a bad season, right?
Despite those gaudy numbers, history says that Tulo will not win the MVP.
Since 1962 (when the schedule moved to 162 games per season), there have been only 12 position players to play in 142 games or fewer and be named MVP. Barry Bonds (2003) is the only one to have done it in the 2000’s, so the voters are putting a large emphasis on being in the lineup consistently – as they should.
Winning has impacted voting in the past as well. Since 2000, there have been only five winners to be on a team that didn’t make the playoffs. Only one of those (Alex Rodriguez in 2003) was on a team with a losing record. That year, the Rangers went 71-91 which seems like a realistic goal for this year’s Rockies.
Being the MVP is not only about getting on the field, but how well your team plays with you on it. When Tulo is on the field, the Rockies are 36-54. When he isn’t, they are 7-7.
Those records certainly hinder the shortstop’s chances to bring the MVP trophy to Denver for the first time since Larry Walker (1997).
Pitching has emerged as the dominant force in baseball. With hitting numbers down, three candidates have surfaced to be the first pitcher to win both the NL Cy Young and MVP since Bob Gibson (1968). Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright and Johnny Cueto have dominated and are all on teams that are in the race for a postseason berth.
Position players that have a legitimate chance at grabbing the NL MVP are last year’s winner Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig. Both players are on teams with winning records and have the playoffs on their minds.
Blame the supporting cast. Blame history. Put the blame wherever you wish. Just don’t be surprised when Troy Tulowitzki isn’t crowned as the NL MVP.