Saturday Rockpile: Re-introducing Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki has returned from an injury-plagued 2012 with a career year in 2013. - Jamie Sabau

The Rockies shortstop has returned from an injury-plagued 2012 with a career-best start to 2013.

Last night, Troy Tulowitzki was 3-for-4, scored a pair of runs, drove in one, reached base four times and made a couple of stellar defensive plays, and I bet you didn't even notice. Not that anyone would blame you, with a six-run being erased and a walk-off home run and all, but that level of excellence has almost become the standard for Tulowitzki in 2013.

The three hits raised Tulo's average to .348, second in the National League behind Yadier Molina, his wRC+ is 174, behind only Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis in all of baseball, and neither Cabrera nor Davis is excellent defensively at a premier defensive position.

A hot start to the season is not typical for Tulowitzki, his 2009 start was so slow that he didn't go to the All-Star Game in a season that saw him finish fifth in NL MVP voting. In fact, Tulo's career line by month like this:

April: .255/.335/.445
May: .286/.358/.465
June: .298/.370/.541
July: .323/.387/.557
August: .326/.394/.543
September: .304/.373/.564

Compare those early season numbers in his career to what he's done in 2013:

April: .308/.394/.603
May: .360/.413/.360
June: .423/.483/.769

While the sample size for those June numbers is obviously small (29 plate appearances), it is nice to see Tulo continue his career trend of improving month-by-month, but starting from a much higher baseline.

A big part of Tulo's improvement has been his ability to increase his line drives, with a career-high line drive rate of 20.5%, and decreasing his pop ups, his IFFB% is a career-low 7.8%, he has popped up just five times in 204 at bats this season. His BABIP is a career-high .348 in part because of this, but it is also the lowest BABIP of anyone in the top 12 in batting average in MLB.

This isn't just a Coors Field thing, either. While Tulo's home numbers are outstanding, he has a .975 OPS in 28 road games this season with eight home runs and 26 RBI away from Coors.

Tulo has been one of the best players in baseball for a while now, and has taken his game to another level in 2013, so while ESPN and the national media are enamored with Yasiel Puig, Rockies fans can continue to enjoy watching the actual best player in the NL West, and possibly the best player in all of baseball.

Links:

Jeff Francis' slot in Rockies rotation may ride on his Saturday start - Denver Post
Patrick Saunders takes a look at Jeff Francis return to the rotation today, a return which may end up being quite brief.

OU baseball: LSU scores late, beats Sooners in battle of pitchers - The Oklahoman
Here is the local game story on Rockies draft pick Jonathan Gray and the Oklahoma Sooners dropping a 2-0 decision to LSU in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regionals.

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