Troy Tulowitzki

From BR Bullpen

Troy Tulowitzki.jpg

Troy Trever Tulowitzki

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki joined Long Beach State University two years after Bobby Crosby had manned the position. He hit .270/.307/.408 as a freshman and improved to .317/.410/.491 as a sophomore. He made the Big West Conference All-Conference team at short. In 2005, Tulowitzki was joined on the infield by Evan Longoria. Troy hit .349/.431/.599 and again was an All-Conference selection; he was 5th in the Conference in average.

He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft, the 7th overall pick, and signed for $2.3 million. The scout was Todd Blyleven. He made his pro debut that year with the Modesto Nuts, hitting .266/.343/.457 with 4 home runs and 14 RBIs in 22 games with the club. In 2006, he moved up to the Tulsa Drillers and hit .291/.370/.473 with 13 homers in 104 games before being called up to the Rockies late in the season. He was a backup shortstop for the US in the 2006 Futures Game and drew a walk in his sole plate appearance. Baseball America rated him the best defensive shortstop in the Texas League.

On April 29, 2007, the Rockies shortstop turned the 13th unassisted triple play in Major League Baseball history. The play occurred with Kelly Johnson on second and Edgar Renteria on first in the 7th inning of a game against the Braves. The runners broke on a full count. Chipper Jones lined one behind second, which Tulowitzki snared. He stepped on second to retire Johnson then tagged out Renteria to complete the play.

Tulowitzki set a new record in home runs for National League rookie shortstops. Ernie Banks's 19 in 1954 had been the record until Tulowitzki hit his 20th in early September. Tulowitzki ended the season with 24 home runs, bettering Banks' record by 5 dingers.

In the wee hours of the morning on April 18, 2008 at Petco Park in San Diego, CA, Tulowitzki hit a double in the 22nd inning to drive in teammate Willy Taveras with what proved to be the winning run in the longest Major League game since 1993. The Rockies beat San Diego 2-1 in a game in which no runs were scored until the 14th inning. Tulowitzki had entered the game 1 for his past 20 and started it 0 for 6. On May 1st, he tore a tendon in his left quadriceps muscle while charging a ground ball, putting him out indefinitely. He was hitting a disappointing .152 with only one home run and 11 RBI in 105 at bats at the time. Tulowitski recovered fully from the injury and returned to hit over .300 for the rest of the 2008 season.

On August 10, 2009 at Coors Field in Denver, CO, Tulowitzki hit for the cycle in a 5-hit (5 for 5), career high 7-RBI game the Rockies won against the Chicago Cubs, 11-5. Five of the RBIs came with 2 outs, and he was perfect in three at-bats with runners in scoring position. The feat was notable as it almost included a grand slam: after a monster first inning homer, Tulo came up in the second with the bases loaded and hit a ball high over the left field foul pole. The shot was ruled a foul ball on the field by the 3rd base umpire, and in the first home run video review in Coors Field history there was insufficient evidence to reverse the call. It appeared all the cameramen present entirely lost the ball against a very bright western sky, as none of the zoomed-in shots were angled up high enough to include the ball's trajectory, and in the wider angled views the ball just vanished not long after leaving the bat. After the 4+ minute delay for the review, Tulowitzki hit the next pitch for a 2-RBI single. In the locker room interview following the game, he correctly pondered why there weren't cameras on the foul poles themselves, presumably pointing up, for just such an occurrence; earlier in the season (June 23rd), he'd hit a towering shot off the top of the left field foul pole at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA, in his first career two home run game, which could very well have suffered the same fate as his August 10th ball.

Tulowitzki had a tremendous home run streak in September of 2010, hitting 14 long balls in a 15-game span. This tied the major league record for most homers in 15 games.

In 2011, he had his second 30-homer season and first 100-RBI season. The only NL shortstop to do that before him was Banks. In 2012, Tulowitzki suffered a left groin strain on May 30th, which put him on the disabled list after he had hit .287 in 47 games. At first, the injury seemed relatively minor, and he began a rehabilitation stint in the minors on June 13th, but immediately aggravated the injury. He underwent surgery on June 21st, putting him out of action for the remainder of the season. He had 8 homers and 27 RBI. He was back healthy in 2013 and had a great start to his year. He was hitting .347 with 16 homers and 51 RBI after 61 games on June 13th when he left a game against the Washington Nationals in the 8th inning, complaining of sore ribs, a problem that had bothered him for a few days; an exam showed a broken rib, putting him on the disabled list. He was leading the NLin slugging percentage (.635) and OPS (1.048) at that point of the season. In spite of the injury, he was voted by fans to start the 2013 All-Star Game at shortstop and returned to the line-up just in time, making it back on July 11th. He finished the season at .312 in 126 games, with 27 doubles and 25 homers.

On May 3, 2014, Tulowitzki recorded the 1000th hit of his career off Daisuke Matsuzaka of the New York Mets. He was the hottest hitter in the majors at that point of the season, carrying a .385 batting average after 29 games, to go along with 10 doubles and 7 homers, 26 runs and 25 RBIs. He was a major reason the Rockies had the best offense in the National League in the early going. He was the NL's Player of the Month for April and kept right on hitting, adding two more homers in an 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers on May 5th. He ended up as the top vote-getter among National League players for the 2014 All-Star Game. He was leading the major leagues with a .340 average and had hit 21 homers when he went on the disabled list on July 22d with a hip flexor strain; the injury was said to be related to leg problems that had regularly bothered him since first injuring his left quadriceps tendon in 2008. On August 13th, the Rockies announced that he would undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season.

There was a lot of speculation about Tulowitzki's future with the Rockies after the 2014 season, given that the team seemed to be still a few years away from competing, and that Troy's expensive contract was not necessarily an asset on a rebuilding team. There was speculation that the New York Yankees may have been interested in making him the replacement for Derek Jeter, who retired that off-season, but in the end he stayed put. Rumors emerged anew in May of 2015 when his agent stated that he was thinking about asking the Rockies to trade him to a contender. He was back on the field with Colorado, and hitting his customary .300 while being in the National league top five for doubles. He still had only hit two homers when he connected for a pair against Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies on May 30th. In that game, Chad Bettis had a perfect game going in the 7th when he let Ben Revere's ground ball go through his legs, then in the 8th, Cody Asche singled through the spot he would normally have been occupying at shortstop because of a defensive shift for the first hit of the game; still, his offensive contribution resulted in a 4-1 win for Bettis. He had a 21-game hitting streak in June and July that year and was named to his fifth All-Star Game as a replacement for an injured Dee Gordon. He was hitting an even .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs when on July 28th he was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays as the key player in a blockbuster trade. Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins accompanied him to Canada, while SS Jose Reyes and Ps Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco headed the other way.

In his first game for the Blue Jays on July 29, 2015, he homered off Jerome Williams in his second at-bat and went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs to lead Toronto to an 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He was hitting in the lead-off spot for the first time of his career, but the Jays made it known that this would likely be his role for the remainder of the season, a decision that made sense giving his high career OBP and the fact that the Jays were not lacking power form other spots in the line-up. He did return to a more power-oriented spot after another trading deadline acquisition, Ben Revere, went on a hot streak and claimed the lead-off slot as a more prototypical player for the role. On September 12th, with the Jays firing on all cylinders since his trade, he hurt his back when he collided with centerfielder Kevin Pillar while catching a routine pop-up at New Yankee Stadium. he suffered a small crack in his left shoulder blade, putting him out of action for a while, although he was hopeful of returning in time for the postseason. He did return on October 2nd, a couple of days after the Blue Jays had clinched a division title, and hit a double and single in an 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit .239 in 41 games for the Jays, ending the year at .280 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs in 128 games. He hit two homers in the postseason, one in the Division Series against the Texas Rangers and the second in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals; he hit ,.304 with 7 RBIs in the latter series, which the Jays lost in six games.

In 2016, Tulowitzki had the honor of hitting the first home run of the year in the major leagues, connecting off reliever Ryan Webb of the Tampa Bay Rays for a two-run shot in the 8th inning on opening day, April 3rd. He played 131 games and hit .245 with 24 homers and 79 RBIs, his batting average being the lowest of his career except for the 25 games he had played in his first taste of the majors late in 2006. The Blue Jays made it back to the postseason, and after going 0 for 4 in the Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tulowitzki had a great Division Series, with 6 hits including a triple and a homer, in 13 at-bats in the Jays' three-game sweep of the Rangers. He found the going tougher in the ALCS, like most of his teammates, however, being limited to a pair of singles in 18 at-bats as Toronto was eliminated by the Cleveland Indians.

In 2017, he was placed on the disabled list on April 23rd and he missed more than a month, not returning to the line-up until May 26th. The Blue Jays had struggled badly in April, although Troy had done well before the injury, hitting .263 with 1 homer and 10 RBIs in 16 games. The Jays began to play better in May and were on the verge of finally reaching the .500 mark when he returned. He singled and drew a pair of walks in his first game back, then on May 29th hit a grand slam off Robert Stephenson of the Cincinnati Reds in a 17-2 beatdown to put an exclamation mark on his return. He managed to stay in the line-up until the end of July, but hit only .249 in 66 games, with 7 homers and 26 RBIs. He went out with ligament damage in his ankle at that point, ending a disappointing season prematurely. The Jays remained concerned about his health heading into 2018, and acquired a number of middle infielders in the off-season to give them additional depth in fear that he would have to miss time again, including Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte. It proved to be a wise move, as it soon became clear that he was unlikely to be ready for opening day. The problem this time was a bone spur in his right heel. In fact, he never played a game that season, as his projected date of return kept being pushed back. He confirmed in late August that he was throwing in the towel on the season, but said he still planned to be back as the Jays' starting shortstop the following year. However, in early December, GM Ross Atkins threw cold water on that notion, stating he did not see Tulo being able to play shortstop at a productive level in 2019 and that the team was now looking at sophomore Lourdes Gurriel as their starter. That left Tulowitzki's role on the team - were he to be healthy again - quite murky. A few days later, on December 11th, the Jays decided to cut him loose, swallowing the $38 million left on his contract.

On January 2, 2019, it was reported that he had signed a one-year contract with the New York Yankees for the major league minimum salary, with the agreement dependent on his passing a physical exam. The plan was to possibly use him as the starting shortstop while Didi Gregorius was recovering from off-season elbow surgery, which was expected to keep him out until mid-season. However, the move was more akin to buying a lottery ticket for the Yankees than a true solution. On January 11th, the Yanks signed 2B D.J. LeMahieu as a more likely candidate to fill their infield hole. However, Tulo played just 5 games for the Yankees, going 2 for 11 with a homer and 1 RBI, before returning to the injured list on April 4th with a strained left calf. That proved to be the final straw: unable to regain his health, he threw in the towel on July 25th, officially announcing his retirement at age 34.

Tulowitzki is only the second player ever to both hit for the cycle and record an unassisted triple play in his career, John Valentin being the other.

Tulowitzki joined the University of Texas as an assistant coach in 2020.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2007 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 5-time NL All-Star (2010, 2011 & 2013-2015)
  • 2-time NL Gold Glove Winner (2010 & 2011)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2010 & 2011)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (2007, 2009-2011, 2013, 2014 & 2016)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2009 & 2011)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2011)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (2007 & 2009)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Pete Caldera: "Five-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki announces retirement from MLB", USA Today, July 26, 2019. [1]
  • Gregor Chisholm: "Tulo addresses talk of moving off shortstop: Out for the rest of the year, veteran has no plans of switching positions",, August 30, 2017. [2]
  • Gregor Chisholm: "Blue Jays could be at a crossroads with Tulo",, December 5, 2018. [3]
  • Gregor Chisholm: "Blue Jays decide to part ways with Tulowitzki: Shortstop, who missed 2018 due to injuries, faced uphill climb to crack infield",, December 11, 2018. [4]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Troy Tulowitzki still seething over Rockie exit from Denver", USA Today Sports, February 29, 2016. [5]
  • Tracy Ringolsby: "Should he stay or should he go? The choice is Tulowitzki's",, May 15, 2015. [6]

Related Sites[edit]