Beware fellow N.L. West pitching staffs!!! When the sun rose on the great expanses of the American west this morning, it marked the beginning of a new era. An era in which at least seven years of trepidation will descend upon your kingdoms. Pitcher friendly ballparks won't save you. Superstitions that may work against other teams won't save you. Even the past experience you've had against our two titans won't save you.
Because today marks the first time that Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki will be batting back to back all season long; and while that may not seem like earth shattering news, it should send shivers down the back of every pitcher's spine in this division that doesn't wear a Colorado jersey. Sure Cargo and Tulo were scary to face before, but having to face them back to back for 18 games a year is a task that's going to prove even more daunting. You may think you've had to do this before, but the dirty little secret is you haven't. You only received a small dose of the frustrating days that lie ahead last August and September; and if what happened when Cargo and Tulo were at the dish during that time at all foreshadowed what's to come in the eons ahead, it's going to be a long seven trips around the sun for you.
My recommendation: leave your feelings in the dugout when having to face Cargo and Tulo because if you bring them out onto the mound, they're probably going to get hurt. Just ask Jon Ely.
(Hat tip to hjrrockies for creating this awesome gif)
Even though it seems as though Cargo and Tulo have been batting next to each other for a while now, they really haven't. In fact, they have only done it 59 times: about a third of a season. (Two games in 2009, two games in the spring of last season, and 55 after Tulo came off the DL from a broken wrist) This is extremely important because in the brief time they have batted next to each other; their numbers are nothing short of incredible.
We'll use last season as our example. First, we have Cargo and Tulo's stats from all the games before July 27th. Why July 27th? That's the day Tulo returned to the lineup after being on the DL with a broken wrist for two months. From that day on, Cargo would bat in the #3 spot while Tulo would bat in the #4 spot in all 55 games they appeared in together. However, in the games you see in the chart below, they only did it twice.
Here we see two solid but not spectacular performances. Both Cargo and Tulo presented a problem for opposing pitchers but they did so in different parts of the lineup. Now look what happened in the 55 games they batted next to each other in the #3 and 4 slots after Tulo returned from the DL.
Now I'm not about to suggest that Cargo and Tulo will be this good throughout an entire 162 game season. The sample size here is far too small to draw and hard conclusions. At the same time though, these numbers are so off the charts good that I don't think they can be completely ignored either. The jump in production was so staggering when these two batted next to each other for the final two months of last season that it's almost impossible not to think that their 2011 totals will be more impressive than their 2010 numbers since they will be batting next to each other all year long.
It could be argued that it was just coincidence that these numbers inflated to the outrageous levels they did once Cargo and Tulo started batting next to each other. You could point out Cargo's eye popping BABIP during this stretch and say he will regress. You could even say that Tulo just happened to have what might turn out to be the greatest month of his career just a few weeks after starting to bat next to Cargo consistently.
While I think all of this helps explain some of the jump, I certainly don't think it explains all of it. From where I sit, last year was only the appetizer; this season, for the first time we get to see what they can do when working together. As Jim Tracy would say; I think we're about to see something special.