By Wesley James
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.
The first news out of spring training for Troy Tulowitzki this year sounded familiar. Injured again. This time with a bone spur in his heel. Blue Jays fans everywhere collectively rolled their eyes.
Tulowitzki ended his 2017 season on July 29 with a spectacular ankle roll at first base, resulting in severe ligament damage. At the time he was playing the worst baseball of his career, hitting just .249/.300/.378 in only 66 games. It was his second major injury of the season, after he pulled his hamstring in late April, missing 31 games. In 2017, he had career worsts in OPS, OPS+, OBP, slugging, and was the slowest shortstop in the majors according to Statcast.
Tulowitzki has always struggled with injuries. Since 2010, he has played in more than 130 games only twice and played in less than 100 games three times. A groin injury in 2012 limited him to 47 games, a cracked rib in 2013 caused him to lose a month, a hip injury in 2014 lost him half of that year. At this point it’s a safe bet that his insides aren’t what they used to be.
It’s hard for a lot of Toronto fans to realize just how great a player Tulowitzki was in Colorado. Between 2007 and July of 2015 he was a five-time all-star and a two time Silver Slugger Award winner, who was perhaps the finest defensive shortstop in a generation. After his trade to Toronto in 2015, he just didn’t look the same, and although his defence was good in 2015 and 2016, he never hit the way many expected him to.
Colorado’s Coors Field can give a hitter a mighty boost, but it’s entirely possible Tulowitzki’s decline has more to do with injuries than ballpark factors. Last summer John Metzler over at bluejaysbeat.com did a pretty thorough analysis of Tulowitzki pre- and post-2014 hip surgery. After tracking his isolated power and WRC+ numbers, there appears to be plenty of evidence that his regression in Toronto can be traced to that injury, especially considering the pressure he puts on his left hip during his swing.
Most projections suggest he’s due for a bounce back year, if not to his old all-star level then at least back to replacement level. But at 33-years-old, with a body that appears to play much older, it’s likely that Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte will have plenty of playing time while Tulowitzki watches from the bench.
Tulowitzki will make $20 million this season and is under contract through the 2020 season with a team option in 2021.
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: C
Wesley James: D
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!