Toronto Blue Jays: Revisiting the Troy Tulowitzki Trade


Did the Toronto Blue Jays make the right call in trading for Troy Tulowitzki?

It’s been almost a month now since Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos shocked the baseball world by trading Jose Reyes to the Colorado Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki.

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I still can’t quite believe the trade was accepted and I can only assume Anthopoulos has some Ashley Madison-like information on his counterpart in the Rockies organization, Jeff Bridich. Otherwise, I seriously fear for the man’s sanity and offer my heartfelt apologies to fans of the Rockies. They lost this trade (right?) – there’s no other way to put it.

In any event, without denying the obvious point that Tulowitzki is the better of the two players, it is worthwhile to consider how each player has settled into things on his new club. I raise this question because there have been some concerns expressed about the quietness of Tulowitzki’s bat in the leadoff spot – concerns I raised myself last week. Here the idea isn’t that Tulowitzki can’t hit at all but that he’s been miscast in the leadoff spot as a member of the Jays (you’re open to disagree with this view).

Bearing all this in mind, we can begin our comparison.

Aug 5, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes (7) throws the ball in the ninth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Mariners 7-5 in 11 innings. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Reyes is hitting .271 in the last 28 days (21 games) with two home runs, eight runs, seven RBI and two walks. His OBP for the same period is .284 while his SLG is .400. What this masks, however, is the fact the bulk of Reyes’ offensive contributions for the Rockies have occurred in the last seven days (five games) where he’s put up a slash line of .409/.409/.773 and hit both home runs.

In other words, it’s taken Reyes a bit of time to feel comfortable hitting in the Rockies lineup (even if he’d rather be somewhere else).

The reverse is true for Tulowitzki.

After a mesmerizing debut for the Jays, Tulowitzki has struggled in the leadoff spot. His numbers (.217/.308/.261) over the last seven days (five games) are well below his usual standard, but we’ll focus on what he’s accomplished over the last 28 days (22 games) to keep the comparison with Reyes even: Tulowitzki is hitting .218/.327/.368 over this stretch with three home runs, 20 runs, nine RBI and 10 walks.

Aug 9, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki waves prior to the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

What all of this suggests is that Tulowitzki, despite his recent struggles at the plate, actually represents the better leadoff option between the two players and that the Jays haven’t really hurt themselves in using Tulowitzki at the No. 1 spot (assuming, of course, the choice is limited to him or Reyes as things get a bit more complicated when you add Ben Revere to the mix).

There’s a defensive side to the equation that must be discussed, too, and here Tulowitzki comes out on top again.

Tulowitzki has been error free so far for the Jays, collecting 59 assists and contributing to 12 double plays. He’s listed as plus-three in Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (Rrds – perhaps the most awkwardly named stat in all of baseball) for Toronto.

For his part, Reyes has committed one error with the Rockies. He already has 64 assists and has contributed to 11 double plays, but that one error drops his Rrds to minus-three with Colorado.

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  • Here again we see the Jays enjoying a slight advantage with Tulowitzki in the lineup over Reyes albeit one that assumes these numbers are easily swappable between the two teams. If you balk at this suggestion, however, it can be noted that Reyes has eight negative seasons (including the current one) from a Rrds perspective versus two for Tulowitzki.

    What should we make of all this information? It basically confirms what we already know: the Jays improved both offensively and defensively with the addition of Tulowitzki. That part is obvious, but we can now add Tulowitzki is that much better than Reyes notwithstanding his slow start in Toronto. Give the guy a few more weeks to figure things out and who knows how wide the gap will expand.

    What are your thoughts on the trade (this one should be a no brainer)? Did the Jays make the right call? Is Reyes the better option at short stop and in the leadoff spot? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

    [Writer’s note: the stats mentioned above don’t take into account last night’s game for Colorado.]

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