Fantasy Baseball Food for Thought: Will Troy Tulowitzki's Average Improve?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 06:  Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Colorado Rockies in action against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Troy Tulowitzki is regarded as not only one of the elite shortstops in the game, but one of the elite hitters as well, and rightfully so.

In September 2010 he showed just how good he could be, hitting .322 with 15 HR and 40 RBI in 115 AB.

Of course, anyone can get hot for a few weeks, but Tulowitzki has routinely shown that his upside is as high or higher than anyone’s.

Of course, that has been far from the case in 2011 (through Monday):

172 At-Bats
.250 Batting Average (43 Hits)
11 Home Runs
27 RBI
24 Runs
Three Stolen Bases
.330 On-Base Percentage
.517 Slugging Percentage
.219 Batting Average on Balls in Play

OK, so maybe the numbers, outside of the average, have been just what we have expected. The HR/FB is extremely realistic, at 15.9 percent, and he is on pace for 40 HR. There’s nothing to complain about there, nor in the RBI or Run departments.

The thing is, is the power starting to affect the rest of his performance?

Yes, the BABIP is supremely below average, and while you would anticipate it improving, is it a lock? It appears that Tulowitzki may have bought into his power a little bit, with a career-high fly-ball rate of 44.2 percent (compared to a career mark of 39.8 percent).

Just look at his rates the past few seasons:

  • 2007: 38.3 percent
  • 2008: 37.3 percent
  • 2009: 39.8 percent
  • 2010: 40.1 percent
  • 2011: 44.2 percent

It had been trending up, slightly, for some time, but this year’s jump is fairly significant. The higher the fly-ball rate, the more likely a player is to have a poor BABIP. Thus, seeing the number so high is a bit disturbing, though not outrageously so.

The thing is, even if he is able to improve on his BABIP, there is a very good chance that his strikeout rate is going to regress. Thus far in 2011, he has posted a strikeout rate of 9.3 percent, nearly half of his career mark of 18.4 percent.

Is that really a number we can believe? He has been consistent in April (9.6 percent) and May (9.0 percent), but it still is not a number that I can fully buy into yet.

Tulowitzki has been around for long enough that, while he has posted years of 14.9 percent (in 377 AB) and 16.6 percent (in 470 AB), this is a bit of an extreme improvement. Even if he were to improve his BABIP, a regression in strikeouts would help to offset the improvement in the average department.

There are other numbers that are worth noting, including his performance with men on base (.214 average). Those numbers are really irrelevant, however, because he’s producing runs, RBI and home runs.

We could also discuss his injury history, which we all know seems to rear its ugly head every single season.

The real question centers on his average, and that’s where fantasy owners need to be concerned. He is a career .287 hitter, so there really is no reason to think that he won’t turn it around sooner or later. However, if he’s going to keep swinging for the fences and hit more and more fly balls (his rate has increased from 43.5 percent in April to 45.1 percent in May), the less likely it will become that he hits for a usable average.

Just some food for thought. Obviously, I am not about to suggest trading him or anything like that. Just a piece of information to keep in the back of your mind.

What are your thoughts? Where do you think Tulowitzki’s average ends up in 2011? Are you worried?


Make sure to enter for your chance to win an autographed Troy Tulowitzki baseball (authenticated by Steiner Sports) by clicking here.

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