Starring for the Rockies during their World Series run in 2007 made Troy Tulowitzki a household name as a rookie, but he had a rough sophomore campaign that included a 108-point drop in OPS and missing one-third of the season with injuries.
Despite a clean bill of health for this season Tulowitzki got off a very slow start, hitting just .216 with a measly .683 OPS through one-third of the Rockies’ schedule while getting benched by then-manager Clint Hurdle.
Hurdle has since been replaced by Jim Tracy and Tulowitzki has since been one of the most valuable players in baseball, hitting .324/.410/.622 with 24 homers, 47 total extra-base hits, 46 walks, 14 steals, 66 RBIs, and 71 runs in 92 games dating back to early June.
In fact, toss in his usual stellar defense at shortstop–which includes just one error in his last 41 games–and there’s a viable argument to be made for Tulowitzki being the most valuable player in baseball during the past two-thirds of the season. Seriously. Here are the OPS leaders over that nearly four-month stretch:
Albert Pujols 1.116
Derrek Lee 1.074
TROY TULOWITZKI 1.028
Hanley Ramirez .981
Pablo Sandoval .981
Kendry Morales .979
Prince Fielder .979
Adam Dunn .974
Garrett Jones .972
Joe Mauer .962
Albert Pujols is obviously amazing and he’d get my vote for NL MVP, but during the past two-thirds of the season Tulowitzki has been in the same stratosphere because even with Coors Field in the mix a 1.028 OPS from a strong defensive shortstop is definitely comparable to a 1.116 OPS from a strong defensive first baseman. Not coincidentally, Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, and Joe Mauer are the only guys from that list who play an up-the-middle position defensively.
After starting the season 18-28 under Hurdle the Rockies have gone 68-37 under Tracy, which is an amazing turnaround that will lead to winning the Wild Card. Among the many things that have gone right for Colorado during the past 100 games Tulowitzki should be at the very top of the list. Not bad for a guy who’ll turn 25 years old on the same day as Game 3 of the NLDS.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.