Late last season, I took a trip to Denver, Colorado with a bunch of close friends. Leading up to the trip, there were tons of activities floated to the group. They included white water rafting, a concert at Red Rocks, local brewery tours, and a Rockies game, to name a few.
After some back and forth, the consensus was to start by purchasing tickets to a mid-summer baseball game at Coors Field. With the thin air and the hot summer months, we anticipated seeing some long balls from Rockies greats like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
The baseball-related conversations leading up to the trip all had the same theme: Will Tulo and CarGo be healthy when we’re there? The answer ultimately was yes (CarGo homered), but Tulowitzki was sadly long gone by the time we made it to Colorado. He had been sent north of the border to Toronto in a trade deadline swap for fellow shortstop Jose Reyes.
Once we made it to the Mile-High City, it was amazing to see the impact a player like Tulo had on the Denver community, as well as how the locals were affected by the trade of their franchise player. Everywhere we went people were still talking about him, how great he was, the one World Series appearance he led the team to, and what the team was like without him.
Outside of Tulowitzki’s accomplishments, it seemed like the next thing out of everyone from Colorado’s mouth was something related to his never being healthy during his time with the team. If only this… What could have been that…
It’s a very similar scenario when considering Tulowitzki in Fantasy. For some reason, people are caught up in how injury prone he has been during his career, and not how he’s arguably been the best shortstop in baseball during the past nine seasons.
Tulowitzki remains an elite, game-changing player in his prime. Since entering the league in 2006, he leads all shortstops in home runs, RBIs, OPS and WAR. I know this doesn’t matter in your league, but he is also a two-time Gold Glove award winner. Tulo is Fantasy gold and we should treat him that way.
Team owners need to consider the upside here and not worry about whether Tulo might get injured again. Just look at the lineup he is part of now. Hitting in front of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion for a full season, Tulo should see a ton of fastballs. And fastballs mean more hits, more runs and more Fantasy production. Even if he only plays 120 games, the 31-year-old is a sure thing for 80 runs, 20 home runs and 80 RBIs; he also has a career .297 batting average. That’s his floor and those are better numbers than a full season from most other shortstop-eligible players being drafted in 10- and 12-team leagues.
Just imagine if Tulowitzki makes it through the season unscathed. That would translate to 100-plus runs, 30-plus home runs, and 100-plus RBIs. If he can stay off the disabled list, Tulo is a complete steal at his current ADP of 50. I understand that’s a huge IF, but Fantasy Baseball drafts are all about upside and value.
When healthy, Tulo does what other shortstops can’t. He produces across the board and has the ability to carry a Fantasy team. The only shortstop coming off draft boards before Tulowitzki is Carlos Correa, and that’s because he has that same ability. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year put up 22 home runs, 68 RBIs and stole 14 bases in less than 400 at-bats last season. In a full season, Correa has the potential to go 30/30 along with 80-plus runs and RBIs and a .290 batting average.
Tulo should put up similar numbers in four of the five categories, with owners being well aware that he does not steal bases. As long as you know that when you’re drafting him, you should 100 percent have a Top 3 shortstop on your hands in Tulowitzki.
Essentially, every other shortstop has question marks, and I always prefer a proven commodity over a boom-or-bust up-and-comer. Three such players — Corey Seager, Xander Bogaerts, and Francisco Lindor — are going about 20 picks after Tulo in Fantasy drafts. These could-be great shortstops may put up big seasons but more than likely need a bit more seasoning before they reach elite Fantasy status. I consider Lindor the best of this bunch, but the sophomore slump always worries me.
After the three youngsters, the drop-off at shortstop is massive. Sure, Ian Desmond (once he signs) and Reyes could bounce back, but shortstop is a very shallow position this year. After the 10th Round, the remaining shortstops will likely only help your team in one or two categories, making Tulowitzki even more valuable. Brandon Crawford, Addison Russell, Elvis Andrus, and Jhonny Peralta just don’t do it for me.
My advice: Forget about the past, consider the shortstop player pool, and take into account Tulowitzki’s Fantasy floor and ceiling. When you put those together, it’s obvious that Tulo remains an elite Fantasy asset and that owning him should be a priority this upcoming season.