A recent article by ESPN Insider’s Scott Spratt ranked Troy Tulowitzki as the number one shortstop in baseball this season. I decided to look at Troy Tulowitzki and what will make him a Hall of Famer. In my next piece, I will play devil’s advocate and take a look at what will keep Troy Tulowitzki out of the Hall of Fame. With that said, let’s look at why the Colorado Rockies shortstop is not just the best in the game today, but is on pace to become one of the best this game has ever seen.
Tulo’s bat, a .314 average with 20 home runs, is just one of the things that make him one of the most dynamic players in the game. No one will argue that Troy Tulowitzki is a five tool shortstop, and aside from his durability issues, he is one of the top talents in baseball. Despite his impressive resume’, one deserving of the title Mr. Spratt has bestowed upon him, a quick look at the shortstop position as a whole and you realize that he is the best in a league that is thin on great shortstop talent.
There is no doubt that if Tulo can stay healthy he’ll have a hall of fame career. He has become one of the most dangerous hitters in the game while continuing to be a vacuum in the field. He is a true five tool player. But what if Tulo continues to put up the numbers he has thus far? Where would he stack up against names like Jeter, Smith, Vizquel, Larkin, Ripken, and Banks? You could even throw A-Rod in the mix and look at what he did before moving to third with the Yankees. In the end, how does Tulo measure up to the game’s greatest shortstops?
Looking at Tulo’s first eight years in the Majors, there is no doubt he has the potential to put his name into the discussion of the game’s best shortstops. His career season output of a .294 average, 29 homers and 102 RBI jump off the page; especially when you factor in that he has hit over .300 three of the last four seasons. A mark of improvement that reflects his growth and development as a Major League hitter. Compare that line to Derek Jeter’s. Jeter, a future first ballot hall of famer, has a career .313 average, averages 79 RBI per year, and 16 homers per year.
Put Tulowitzki’s numbers up against any hall of fame shortstop and you see what this kid could end up being. Mr. Cub Ernie Banks had a career .274 average and averaged 33 home runs and 105 RBI during his career, a career that spanned 19 years. The Iron Man himself doesn’t boast a career batting line like Tulo has amassed. Ripken’s career season average of .276, 23 home runs, and 91 RBIs are the result of an historic 21 year career. Omar Vizquel put together a 24 year career didn’t’ boast an overwhelming offensive line. Neither did Ozzie Smith, who was also more notably known for his defensive prowess. Nor did Barry Larkin. A pattern emerges and it doesn’t take a mathematician to see Tulo is on pace to be one of the best hitting shortstops in baseball.
The only players who covered the gap between third and second with offensive numbers that surpass Troy Tulowitzki’s are that of Alex Rodriguez and Honus Wagner. Wagner’s numbers, a career .328 hitter with 1,733 RBI, 1,736 runs, and 722 total bases make the Flying Dutchmen the pinnacle of offensive shortstop numbers. Many joke there is a reason is baseball card is worth $50,000. As for Rodriguez, his dance with PEDs and becoming the most hated player in Major League Baseball will keep him out of the Hall and forever taint his numbers much like Barry Bonds’ have been. Years from now when someone asks who the Home Run king is, every time someone mentions Bonds, they’ll bring up the asterisk. Much of the same can be expected for A-Rod.
A look at Troy Tulowitzki and the numbers he has put up thus far and you quickly realize that the Colorado Rockies have a future Hall of Famer on their roster. He is the best shortstop in baseball right now, and you could argue he is also one of the ten best hitters in baseball today. To boot, Tulo has a career .985 fielding percentage and has committed just 59 errors in eight seasons. He’s garnered two Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, and finished in the top five of two MVP races.
Troy Tulowitzki has all the makings of a first ballot Hall of Famer. He’s on track to become just that. He is one of the most popular players in the game today, and has grown to be the hometown favorite. As Todd Helton steps aside at the end of this season, Tulo assumes the role of leader of the Colorado Rockies. Hall of Fame shortstops like Ripken and Jeter thrived as team leaders. Here’s hoping Tulo runs with his new role as well as he has the first eight years of his career. If he can continue to play at this level, convert his play on the field and his leadership into division titles, postseason victories, and a World Series or two; you’d be hard pressed to find a shortstop with a better resume than that of Troy Tulowitzki.