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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Some players cause me a great deal of frustration as a fantasy owner; not necessarily because they are on my team and not playing up to expectations, but in this case because they played poorly while on my team and later had their career season while off of it. An example of one of these players is Cliff Lee, who I owned in most leagues for his terrible 2007 season and then, when I had given up on him, he comes back in 2008 to win the Cy Young Award. Similarly, I owned Aaron Hill in 2008 when he batted .264 with two home runs; in 2009, when off of my team, he bats .286 with a whopping 36 home runs.
I have never owned Troy Tulowitzki on a team yet, but I would imagine the people that drafted him on average with the 45th overall pick in 2008 drafts hold similar feelings.
After a tremendous rookie campaign in 2007 that would have earned him a Rookie of the Year Award in almost any other year had it not been for an equally impressive Brewers third baseman named Ryan Braun, Tulowitzki flopped hard in 2008.
He struggled throughout April, until on the 29th he tore a quadriceps muscle and was out until June. After returning from his injury, Tulowitzki played almost at his 2007 level, steadily raising his OPS from .448 to his season-ending number of .732 throughout the second half. Because he played well in the second half, I said that he was "not necessarily someone to avoid in 2009."
In 2009 people were not as high on him as last year, but Tulo certainly was not avoided being drafted around pick 80 in drafts as the sixth shortstop selected. For the people who owned him in 2009, Tulowitzki rewarded them nicely by not only matching his 2007 numbers but by raising them by six points of batting average, eight home runs, and 13 steals.
Tulowitzki had a great 2009 season—no one can deny that—but whether or not he can have a similar 2010 remains a question. In his three years in the majors, Tulowitzki has had his fair share of injuries but has at least avoided any major injuries. Although he probably will not play 150-plus games in a season, he is not too high an injury risk to justify not picking him due to concern for his health.
In the power department, Tulowitzki experienced a major surge, bringing his home run total and HR/FB percentage into new territory.
Tulo achieved his power numbers not by hitting a ton of fly balls, but by making sure that the ones he did hit left the park. His 21 percent HR/FB rate ranks around such slugger-type players as Jayson Werth, Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Braun.
Tulo could post similar power numbers next year, but the more likely path is for him to regress slightly and hit a more reasonable 26 home runs. He clearly possess power potential but is not quite at the level where he can be expected to hit 30-plus home runs perennially. Overall I would expect him to hit somewhere in the range of 20-30 home runs next year, and that range can be made more specific once the True Home Run numbers are calculated for 2009.
Surprisingly Tulo stole 20 bases this year despite getting caught 11 times. That equals a 65 percent success rate, and most players with rates that low steal less bases next year since their base stealing is actually hurting their team's chance to win. For Troy this was not even a fluke running year; his career success rate is 57 percent and in the minors it was even lower, so Tulo should definitely be getting the green light less and less in the future.
At most, he should barely reach 10 steals, but the high single-digits are where I see his 2010 steals totals hanging around.
Since joining the majors, Tulowitzki has been able to maintain a decently low strikeout rate while adding a few points to his walk rate.
As the other stats show (for a refresher on them click here), Tulo has increased his pitch judgment slightly over the past few years while also getting better at making contact with the pitches outside of the zone. His A/P shows that he has become progressively a more passive hitter in his three years in the majors, explaining the increase in BB percentage. He has, overall, above-average plate discipline that should allow him to continue to post solid batting averages in the .290s to low .300s.
In 2009, Troy Tulowitzki emerged again as a premier shortstop, and he should be drafted in 2010 leagues accordingly. The last time he was coming off a good season he did disappoint in the next one; however, no logical reasoning points to why that would happen again.
An injury is much more likely to ruin his upcoming season than anything else, and Tulowitzki is only a marginal injury risk compared to other shortstops like Jose Reyes and Rafael Furcal. My feeling, however, is that Tulowitzki will be taken too high for my liking in most drafts since people may expect another 30/20 season from him when really 25/7 is a more likely line. Tulowitzki is a great ballplayer, but the home run/steals combination he flashed in 2009 was likely a one-hit wonder.
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:18am
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