clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Has Troy Tulowitzki entered a steep decline?

New, 6 comments
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I have long been one of Troy Tulowitzki's biggest fans. The production he'd provide out of the SS position is something I loved having on my fantasy teams, especially in my main league, which is an OPS league. MLB average wRC+ for SS in the last 5 years is about 86, with MLB average OPS for SS at around .670. Tulo's wRC+ and OPS in the last 5 years stand at 131 and .898, way above the norm for shortstops. I felt it was such an advantage for me having someone like him in the SS position under my league rules, something that was generally overlooked by most fantasy ranking systems, which use 5x5 standard offensive categories.

But now about 18 months removed from hip surgery, a surgery that ended his monster 2014 season after only 91 games, it's fair to question whether Tulo is beginning to enter a steep decline. Last year, he saw a notable spike in strikeouts, with a notable a drop in walks, power, and overall production:

Year

K%

BB%

ISO

wRC+

2011-14

14.2%

10.9%

.237

141

2015

21.3%

7.1%

.160

100

It was his first season immediately after an intense hip surgery, and he did change leagues at the trade deadline, so maybe those factors impacted him to some degree. Maybe with a full season post OP, he'll rebound a little and hit more like his old self. But, he's now 31 years old, and he's quite the injury risk at this point. The most games he's played in the last 4 seasons is 128, last year, where he missed most of September after colliding with a teammate in the field and being diagnosed with a small crack in his left shoulder blade. He's averaging just 98 games played in the last 4 seasons. His body just doesn't seem to be able to handle the length of a full season, and I can't see that improving now that he's in his 30s.

For 2016, here are ZiPS and Steamer with their median projected outcomes for Tulo:

Proj.

AVG

OBP

SLG

HR

R

RBI

ZiPS

.261

.335

.442

17

57

61

Steamer

.260

.334

.441

19

67

64

ZiPS is down on Tulo's counting stats like runs scored and RBIs, primarily because it projects him to only stay healthy enough for 466 PA. Steamer has him at 522 PA over 118 games.

Despite the concerns, Tulo still carries enormous upside. He's in a great run scoring environment in the AL East, particularly in his home park in Toronto, with a top offense surrounding him. And I'm not sold that he's now only a league average hitter, like he was in 2015. But there is additional risk in drafting him this year, and it's not just the typical games missed risk that comes with drafting him. There are some warning signs that point to a drop off in his offensive skill set. And if you combine both the normal injury risk that comes with him with the possible drop off in skill set, that could be a recipe for a draft day overpay based on his name.