Evaluating the Talent: Troy Tulowitzki
This evaluation post is by far the least necessary of all the others I’ve written. We all know where Troy Tulowitzki belongs: killing it at shortstop and in the clean-up spot. He’s the best player on our team and more or less our hope for the future. That’s really all there is to it.
So what kind of season will Tulo have? Let’s look back at 2011. He hit 100 RBI for the first time, which is nice considering his job in the lineup is to drive in runs. It was his second-best season in terms of home runs (30), batting average (.302), and WAR (6.3). These are all perfectly acceptable numbers for a middle-of-the-order hitter. The only problem with them is that Tulo can do better. His power numbers are more or less what you’d expect, but he strikes out too much, and he needs to work on his plate discipline. Swinging for the fences only works so many times.
The good news is that Tulo is maturing with age. He understands that he is a leader on this team and that it’s his job to set an example. Where he still needs work is in understanding that setting an example doesn’t always mean getting the game-winning hit. Just as often it means assessing the situation and contributing whatever will help the team most in that moment. He has an excellent mentor in Todd Helton, and I think he will improve this season. It will help if the team doesn’t completely collapse around him like they did last year. He seems to get extra stressed when he feels as though the whole operation is riding on his shoulders, and that’s when his hitting becomes most ineffective.
Defensively, Tulo is indisputably the best shortstop in the game right now. We couldn’t ask for anything more in the hole. Nobody pirouettes and throws quite like he does, and there’s nobody I’d rather have initiating a double play. The intangibles of his defense are what really make him sparkle. He doesn’t have the best UZR in the league, but everyone knows he’s the best shortstop. He gets the job done.
I feel good about this season for Tulo. Yes, he has some work to do when it comes to his mental approach, but the stuff is there and that’s more than half the battle. Hopefully having more veterans around him to share the leadership load will allow him to focus more on getting the job done.