Last night in Philly, Troy Tulowitzki was on display. He crushed his 22nd home run of the season into deep left field and then made a ranging play at short that was worthy of a Web Gem. During the last seven days Tulo has hit safely in 10 of 23 at-bats and tallied five RBI and two home runs. His efforts last night led the Rox to a win over the Phils 5-3.
Last night, Tulo flashed the look of a future member of the Hall. He’s on pace to finish the 2013 season hitting .315 with 28 home runs and 87 RBI despite missing four weeks in July. It would seem as if Tulo is destined to be a Hall of Famer. And if he’s not, what stands in the way of Colorado’s shortstop?
When Troy Tulowitzki comes up in conversation, it doesn’t take long for his durability to come in to question. Tulo missed most of last year and another four week stint this year due to injury. Since Tulo came into the Majors in 2006, he’s torn a quadriceps tendon, broken some ribs, and suffered several hand and wrist injuries. Tulo has become the injury ridden player every front office fears, especially when that front office has him locked him for seven years and $134.5 million. One thing that seems to be common in Hall of Fame shortstops is durability. Ripken, Jeter, Banks, Smith, and Wagner all played at least 19 seasons. As impressive as that tenure is, it is even more impressive to know that combined the five of them only played under 100 games in thirteen seasons.
Many blame Tulo’s size as the cause of his injuries. He plays fast and intense, the sum of which are the cause of his visits to the DL. Whatever the reason, if Tulo can find a way to consistently stay healthy, he’ll continue to put up solid numbers, and ultimately earn himself a ticket to Cooperstown. However, if these injuries begin to add up, Tulo will be lucky to see 14 seasons in the Bigs; which will leave his resume’ unfinished and his career shrouded in what ifs and if onlys.
Postseason play is another aspect of Tulo’s career that is far from Hall worthy. He’s played 839 games with the Rockies, 15 of which are in the postseason. More telling is the fact that 11 of those 15 games came during their incredible postseason run in 2007. The other seven seasons of his career have earned him just four playoff games.
It is said that Hall of Famers earn their status of legend in October. A quick reflection of some of the legends of baseball and many have their stories forged in the fall: Jeter’s flip against the A’s; Kirby Puckett’s walk-off in Minnesota, Bob Gibson striking out 17 in ’68; Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch; or Reggie Jackson earning the nickname Mr. October for his World Series play. Each moment solidified the legend of each player.
How important is big play in the playoffs? Ask Kirk Gibson. His walk-off as a Dodger in ’84 has made him a legend despite an average career. Tulo has to start getting Colorado to the playoffs, and then have an impact in the playoffs. His current .211 average with 6 RBI and 1 homer aren’t numbers they gladly put in the hall.
Many will defend Tulo’s subpar playoff resume’ on the Colorado Rockies. Aside from 2007’s historical run and a brief stint against Philly in 2009, the Rockies have seen the playoffs just one other time. Although a young franchise, their front office fails to put together a team that can push for the playoffs. Stuck in a division with the LA Dodgers, who boast the MLB’s highest payroll, Colorado is still a long ways from playoff contention.
Defend him how you want, but Troy Tulowitzki is missing two key parts to a Hall of Fame resume’. Should he stay healthy and off the DL, he’ll put together numbers that deserve Cooperstown. And no sport loves their numbers more than baseball. Will he collect some October wins? Can he get Colorado back to the World Series or at the very least make them a consistent threat for the playoffs? If he finds a way to play into October more frequently he’ll bolster his Hall chances. And if he’s playing in October, he has the chance to make the play that takes him from Hall of Famer to legend. If there’s one thing baseball remembers more than a Hall of Famer, it’s a legend.