There’s no denying that when healthy, Troy Tulowitzki is one of the most complete players in baseball, let alone at a slim shortstop position. Since breaking into the majors in 2006, he’s finished in the top-10 in MVP voting three times, has won two gold gloves and two silver slugger awards. That’s a pretty rounded out trophy case he owns.
But 2012 veered off that course. Tulowitzki missed the final four months of the season with a nagging groin injury that he could never overcome. Fortunately, multiple reports confirm that he’s well on his way to a full recovery, which is good news for a Colorado Rockies team that is in need of something positive things.
However, there a some rumors out there that have the slugging shortstop being dealt for presumably pitching. This is more than just a passing whim. Because the Rockies obviously have a gap in their bleak rotation and Coors Field won’t draw any of the elite free agents, the only route to improve their staff would be to through trades. Dexter Fowler has also been included in these talks as well. Tulowitzki is vastly more valuable than anyone on the Rockies, though.
For one, he plays shortstop, a position that doesn’t consist of many five-tool players. And Tulowitzki is one of those assets, averaging 36 home runs per 162 games since 2009 with a .922 OPS. Plus, his 19.5 WAR since 2009 leads all shortstops, as does his wOBA (Weight on-base Percentage) of .393. Heck, he leads practically all basic and advanced metrics.
Then, there’s the consistency factor that most players on the Rockies don’t have. See, Coors Field affects some players numbers for the best. Those players look like MVP’s in Colorado, but fall off a cliff on the road. Tulo, though, doesn’t as he has a career .814 OPS on the road compared to a .921 OPS at home. So there isn’t an obvious outlier like there is with say Carlos Gonzalez who has an OPS of .735 on the road for his career, but an inflated 1.003 OPS at the friendly confines of Coors Field.
Many pundits were intrigued by Josh Rutledge’s performance filling in for Tulowitzki which is sparking these trade rumors. The 23-year-old compiled a respectable .775 OPS in 73 games, but struggled defensively at shortstop with a .956 fielding percentage. At second base, he had a 1.000 fielding percentage which likely a better bet for him in the long run if they don’t dangle Tulowitzki.
Now, I understand that the Rockies are pushing towards a better pitching staff after being historically worse this year. And what free agent wants to sign with Colorado? None of the good ones, at least. So basically, Tulo could land them a few top-notch pitchers or at least one All-Star pitcher, which is what they need.
However, trading Tulowitzki is trading the face of the Rockies. At 27-years-old, he still has enough gas left in the tank to produce. While the Rockies have replacements, none at their disposal could replace one of the best shortstops in baseball.