2016 Blue Jays Season Review: Troy Tulowitzki

By: Jay Blue and @JaysGirlEmily

Blue Jays From Away

Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.

Troy Tulowitzki did not particularly make a great impression on the Blue Jays’ faithful in his first partial season with his new club. He had mentioned conflicted feelings that he had after being traded by the Colorado Rockies, a team that he had signed a long-term contract with and with whom he expected to be playing for a long time. But times change and Tulo was traded to the Blue Jays and hit just .239/.317/.380, his worst slash line and OPS since he cracked a big league roster in 2006 at the age of 21.

Fans were hopeful for Tulo since he had flashed excellent defence and were hopeful of a better season with the bat now that he had had some time to get adjusted to Toronto, his teammates and the environment. In spring training, there were indications of this as he hit four home runs for a .561 slugging percentage in his 16 games.

That hope was fleeting as Tulo opened the season, hitting just .169/.293/.325 in April and while his bat warmed up as the weather did, he still wasn’t put up “Tulo-like” numbers in May, hitting .238/.286/.440 (although the slugging percentage was nice) with five doubles and four home runs. At the end of May, Tulo succumbed to a right-quad strain and went on the DL, working on his hitting approach and returned with a vengeance. With a .263/.317/.632 slash line in just 10 games in June. Tulo equaled his monthly home run total (four) from his previous two months in fewer than half the plate appearances.

Tulo caught fire as the Jays started winning again, hitting .308/.350/.538 in July with six homers and 21 RBI and, while he tailed off in August (.273/.347/.432) and September/October (.269/.313/.398), he still managed to be a big contributor down the stretch.

Overall, the inconsistent season that Tulowitzki had contributed to a .254/.318/.443 slash line with 24 home runs and 21 doubles, which was good for a 101 OPS+ (right around league average OPS) and 102 wRC+ (2% above league average in creating runs). Tulo has also seen his defense slip in some metrics but is still an above average shortstop. Fangraphs had him being worth 2.8 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) while Baseball Reference’s version of the stat had him at 3.3 rWAR.

Tulo was 0-for-4 in the Wild Card game against Baltimore but was on fire against Texas in the ALDS, hitting .462/.462/.846 with a triple and a home run in three games. On the flip side, the Cleveland Indians handled him very well, limiting him to a .111/.200/.111 slash line with just two hits in 18 at bats.

Contract Status

Obviously, Tulowitzki is a big part of the Blue Jays’ future going forward. He has four more guaranteed years on his contract at $20 million for the first three and $14 on the last one, following by a $15 million option with a $4 million buyout.

Emily Says

Troy Tulowitzki hit the first home run of the 2016 MLB season, on April 3rd in Tampa Bay. He hit three more in April, including two on the 23rd, but only had a .169 average. His OBP was .293, thanks to 14 walks.

He hit four more home runs in May, along with five doubles but still only batted .238. He also struck out 22 times. At the end of May he was placed on the disabled list after suffering a right quad strain. He returned on June 18th, and hit .263 with four home runs in 38 at-bats. He returned to Colorado for the first time on the 27th, and received a standing ovation before his first plate appearance. He had just two hits over three games at Coors Field – a home run and an RBI single.

On July 3rd, the Jays honoured Tulo with a bobblehead, and he responded by going 3-for-5 including a three-run home run. July was his strongest month, as he hit .308 with six home runs and 21 RBI (his highest monthly total). July also included a ten-game hit streak, his longest of the season. His walk numbers fell, earning him an OBP of .350, but he slugged .538.

In August, he hit a respectable .273/.347/.432, including four home runs and his first four-hit game since becoming a Blue Jay.

He hit a grand slam (another first with Toronto) in the midst of a 3-hit performance on September 11th, one of only two home runs in September. He hit .267 and walked six times, and struck out thirteen.

On the last day of the regular season, Tulo drove in the decisive run in the 8th inning of a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox to clinch home field advantage in the Wild Card game.

Over the course of the season, he batted .254/.318/.443, 21 doubles, 24 home runs (which tied him with Michael Saunders for third-most on the team) and 79 RBI. He struck out 101 times, or 18.6% of the time, and walked 43 times. His walk rate of 7.9%, as well as his strikeout rate, were among the worst for his career.

In 1128.2 innings at shortstop, Tulo made nine errors, earning him a .983 fielding percentage. He hadn’t made a single error with the Jays in 2015, meaning his first of 2016, on April 26th, was his first in Toronto after a streak of 59 error-free games. He had an uncharacteristically shaky May, making six errors total and four over a span of four games. He then went 60 games before making another. He also turned 72 double plays, had 158 putouts and 366 assists.

Tulo played in every postseason game for the Jays, batting .229/.270/.371 in 35 at-bats. After going hitless in the Wild Card game, he was 3-for-5 in ALDS Game 1, including a bases-clearing triple that broke the game open in the Jays’ favour. He had two hits (one a two-run home run) in ALDS Game 2, plus a single and a run scored on a passed ball, tying the game, in ALDS Game 3.

In the Championship Series he fared worse, getting just two singles, two walks, and scoring once in five games. In the postseason he scored three runs, drove in five, walked twice and struck out four times.

Regular Season Grades

Jay: C+
Emily: B+

Postseason Grades

Jay: C
Emily: B