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Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: TROY TULOWITZKI SS COLORADO ROCKIES

Sometimes certain players become fixtures on our annual Draft Bust lists.  Think of Jose Reyes or Nelson Cruz.  Or today's subject, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  Undeniably the most talented offensive shortstop in baseball, Tulowitzki has been a first round fixture ever since his 2007 breakout when he clubbed 24 home runs and batted .291 at the ripe old age of 22.  Since that time, Tulowitzki has put up some monster numbers on an annual basis, with the highlight being his ridiculous 2009 campaign when he hit 32 home runs with 92 RBI and 20 stolen bases while batting .297.  While it is common knowledge that Coors Field played a big role in Tulo's ascent to one of the best players in the game, there is a dark side behind all of those offensive numbers.  I am referring of course to Tulowitzki's penchant for injury and his beyond cemented annual DL stints.  Tulowitzki has now gone seven straight seasons and counting with at least one stint on the DL and all of those missed games have put a major crimp into his fantasy baseball owners' plans to win their leagues.  2014 was no different as Tulowitzki went to the extreme on both fronts.  His first half performance was MVP-worthy as he batted .345 with 21 home runs and 52 RBI in only 310 at-bats.  Those who bit the bullet in drafting Tulowitzki with the hope that maybe this was finally the year he would stay healthy, seemed to have hit a colossal home run.  However staying true to form, Tulowitzki quickly hit the DL at the start of the second half of the season and never returned as he succumbed to a serious hip surgery that was the same one that has destroyed the career of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.  As of this writing, Tulowitzki has still not been cleared for baseball activities which hasn't stopped the trade rumor from swirling, so potent does his bat remain.  However with all that said, let's dig in a bit deeper here in order to unearth what Tulowitzki currently is as a player and figure out how sizable the risk of investing here stands.

First let's begin with the surgery.  As I already noted, the hip procedure Tulowitzki underwent is a major one and there has been more than a few whispers that he will not come back as the same player because of it.  This is not just simple conjecture either as it makes complete sense.  The hips are what gives a batter the torque to slam into a baseball and drive it with power.  Any compromise there will no doubt inhibit the power game as we have seen out of Rodriguez.  That doesn't even take into account the fact Tulowitzki has also had a ton of lower body and leg injuries that are not even connected to the hip which makes him quite possibly the biggest injury risk in the game.  In addition, Tulowitzki's draft price has not dropped much at all despite all the missed time as his first half hitting bonanza keeps the thought in prospective owners' minds of how awesome an offensive player he can be.  When you factor in that Tulowitzki is a shortstop which his incredibly shallow, the hype grows even more crazy.  Now of course I am no doctor but the science here is tough to refute.  The fact Tulowitzki has also not been cleared for baseball activities is also telling how invasive the surgery was.  That alone makes him a ridiculous risk.

The second part of this that needs to be watched are the trade rumors which have picked up in intensity lately.  The New York Mets continue to be linked here as they are willing to surrender top pitching prospect Noah Syndegaard in a deal which was first reported by our own Michael Wong months ago before ESPN and the other outlets got to it.  We all know that much of Tulowitzki's offensive haul has come at home and if he moves to a pitching paradise like in Citi Field with the Mets, that could take a huge bite out of his statistics.  Take a look at these career splits for Tulowitzki.

CAREER AT HOME:  .323 99 HR 349 RBI 346 R

CAREER ON ROAD:  .274 77 HR 255 RBI 268 R

Those splits are stark as Tulo has gone for almost 50 fewer RBI, runs, and .50 on his batting average on the road.  Again if a trade if made, Tulo will get hurt big time with his statistics. 

Now getting back to the numbers, if Tulowitzki does stay in Colorado, the numbers will be immense on a per game basis when healthy.  While Tulowitzki no longer is a five-tool guy as his speed is completely shot, he remains a monster four category producer in runs, RBI, average, and home runs while wearing a Rockies uniform. 

In looking at the total package here, Troy Tulowitzki is a guy I would avoid at all costs.  You already know going in that he will miss games and likely more than a few.  Hanley Ramirez is the much better investment as he moves to a prime hitting ballpark in Boston with the Red Sox and he stands a much better chance of returning numbers over a whole season than does his counterpart.  The drat price is just too high to recommend an investment considering all the blaring red flags surround his name.

2015 PROJECTION:  .307 23 HR 82 RBI 88 R 4 SB

 
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