Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Year in Review: Troy Tulowitzki

In his first full season with the Blue Jays, Troy Tulowitzki was a constant highlight-reel on defence and a solid hitter at the plate. 

After struggling somewhat through his first 41 games in Toronto last season, Troy Tulowitzki was still expected to put up Colorado-like numbers while still flashing excellent defence.

The California native was considered one of the key juggernauts in the Jays’ potent offence. One of the pieces that, over a full season, might bring the Jays to the elusive World Series.

But a lot of people forget that Tulowitzki is 32 now. Obviously, he can still produce, but consider that his best season offensively (2011) is now five years old and he may not return to that standard again.

The Good

In many ways, Tulowitzki had a strong season for the Jays. With an overall slash of .254/.318/.443 including 24 homeruns and 79 RBIs, he was among the top American League shortstops in many statistical categories.

His splits are interesting, though. He produced more in the first half, but he hit much better overall in second half. The biggest difference is he struck out almost half as much after the All-Star break. Take a look for yourself.

He’s certainly the best shortstop the Blue Jays have employed for a long time. He may not be the one of the top players in the league anymore, but he is still a great hitter and invaluable to the team. Baseball Reference gives him a 3.3 WAR for the year. While that is lightyears away from what he used to produce (he averaged 6+ from 2007-2011), it’s still a vast improvement on last season’s 1.5.

That brings us to Tulo’s defence, which is where he really shines. The fact is — and you’ll know this if you watch the Blue Jays on even a semi-regular basis — the guy gets to balls a lot of other guys don’t. He is a big reason the team’s defence was so good in 2016.

With 10 defensive runs saved, he was third-best among AL shortstops. He made just nine errors, again ranking him near the top.

I could go on, but I don’t think I need to. To summarize, offence: solid/valuable; defence: excellent.

The Bad

Tulowitzki is regressing, in general. As I’ve said he’s a very good player, but his numbers both offensively and defensively are trending slightly downward and that probably won’t change a whole lot.

His on-base percentage (.318) was the lowest since he played just 25 games in his first MLB introduction in 2006. This isn’t a reflection on the team as a whole, because the Jays were third in the AL with a .330 OBP. Of the 75 AL players who qualified, Tulowitzki ranked 52nd in this category.

Like most of the Blue Jays, he didn’t exactly stand out in the playoffs. He did drive in five runs in the Texas series, but he went just 2-for-18 against Cleveland. Then again, nobody was hitting in that series.

The Future

Fangraphs projects the infielder will take a tiny step back in the batting box. In their eyes, Tulo will hit .260 with 22 HR and 72 RBIs. So, similar to this season but you never truly know what to expect.

If Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are indeed gone, then Tulowitzki will be relied on even more. Not just to replace some of that offence, but also to be a team leader in the clubhouse.

We know Tulo is an important piece for Toronto in 2017, and wouldn’t it be amazing if he returned to the 2011 baseball player?

Either way, his success or lack thereof next season will be pivotal in the Jays’ pursuit of a third straight playoff appearance.

Michael Saunders   Ryan Goins   Ezequiel Carrera   Joe Biagini
Chris Colabello   Aaron Loup   Kevin Pillar   Melvin Upton Jr.
Justin Smoak    Francisco Liriano    Ryan Tepera    Devon Travis
J.A. Happ   Roberto Osuna   Marcus Stroman   Jason Grilli
Aaron Sanchez   Dalton Pompey   Marco Estrada   Brett Cecil
Dioner Navarro   Russell Martin

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