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Hurdle has since been replaced by Jim Tracy and Tulowitzki has since been one of the most valuable players in baseball, hitting .324/.410/.622 with 24 homers, 47 total extra-base hits, 46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.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.