The ability of Colorado Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has never been questioned, but his durability has. Following the 2010 season, Colorado decided that instead of letting Tulowitzki eventually enter free agency, they locked him up for the rest of the decade.
Once his seven-year/$45 million deal ends at the conclusion of the 2014 season, a six-year/$118 million pact will take effect until 2020. He followed up signing that extension with an All-Star season in 2011 (including a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award), but 2012 wasn’t as kind. Tulo went down early in the season with a groin injury that eventually limited him to 47 games and 181 at-bats.
In 36 games played through 2013, Tulo has been hitting at a .322/.404/.609 clip with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs. In 11 less games played and approximately 70 fewer at-bats, he’s already out-produced his 2012 power numbers. Colorado has cooled off after their hot start, but most of their 21-19 record can be attributed to the production from both Tulo and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Tulowitzki has been held out of a few ball games due to minor injuries, but he’s been fortunate to not spend a prolonged period of time off the field. His durability has come into question at times, playing 150+ games only twice since 2007. However, the potential he has at the plate outweighs his injury risks. That’s why the Rockies decided to invest a lot of time and money in their former first round pick.
For first-year manager Walt Weiss to keep his club surprising baseball in the National League West, Tulowitzki needs to stay healthy. The division was perceived to be a two-team race between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, but that hasn’t happened. The Dodgers have dealt with poor play and injuries, as Don Mattingly‘s club is currently occupying last place. The Giants are in first, but their starting pitching hasn’t met expectations over the first month and a half of the season.
With the top two teams not performing to expectations, this is the time for Colorado to take advantage. The division is up for grabs; if the Rockies want to be in the midst of a playoff push come August and September, they’ll need to play good baseball right now. To continue doing that, Tulo must stay healthy. He makes the lineup dynamic with his presence.
Having both Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez both in the lineup makes the Rockies’ order much more intimidating. Dexter Fowler, Wilin Rosario, and Michael Cuddyer pose an offensive threat, but none of them instill fear to opposing pitchers like Tulo and CarGo. We saw how Colorado struggled with just Gonzalez in the lineup last season; opposing pitchers simply pitched around him more often. They willingly allowed other hitters try to and beat them.
I’m happy to see Tulo enjoy a resurgence after being sidelined for most of last season. Shortstop is the most demanding position on the field; there aren’t many in the game today that can dominate the position like he can, when healthy. As he goes, the Rockies will go. The organization is hoping their shortstop stays healthy so they can make a run for October baseball.
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