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Wednesday Rockpile: What happened to Troy Tulowitzki's bat?

Until his rib injury on June 13th, Troy Tulowitzki was having the best year of his career. Since his return, Tulo has been hitting at a below replacement level clip.

Doug Pensinger

As you're probably aware, the Rockies just endured probably their worst offensive month ever in July, producing only a .238/.293/.356 (BA/OBP/SLG) line as a team and scoring just 3.4 runs per game (their average from April to June was 4.7). In August the team hasn't been much better despite a couple of recent blowouts - .273/.330/.356 with 4.2 runs per game. The low slugging % is because the Rockies have only 5 home runs in 12 August games - their 22 extra base hits in 12 games puts them behind even the July rate.

Much has been made on this site of the Rockies' propensity to give many plate appearances to sub-replacement level hitters this season - and that obviously contributed to the offensive malaise over the last two months. However, one of the reasons the Rockies were so successful in the first three months of the year despite these players being in the lineup was that their elite players were mashing the ball. Unfortunately, the Rockies' best player has not been himself the last two months, removing the safety net that had been propping this offense up.

Until his rib injury on June 13th, Troy Tulowitzki was having the best year of his career. In the 61 games he played in before the injury, Tulo was worth 4 rWAR - hitting .347/.413/.635 with 16 HRs and 51 RBI. Since his return (with a few hitless games before the All-Star break), Tulo has been hitting at a below replacement level clip: he's batting just .220/.312/.390 in the season's 2nd half (93 plate appearances). In August his line is just .143/.318/.229.

The below table shows the depths of Tulo's struggles - he's striking out more, popping out more, and hitting for far less power:

1st Half 2nd Half
BA 0.332 0.220
OBP 0.400 0.312
SLG 0.608 0.390
wRC+ 162 81
BABIP 0.341 0.241
ISO 0.276 0.171
K% 15.5 21.5
IFFB% 10.3 15.0

This isn't the Tulo we know and love...the plate discipline is still there despite the higher K rate, but the ability to drive the ball has evaporated. What gives? I'm not going to play armchair doctor/psychologist on this one - it's just tough to watch your team's best player struggle like this. It's still a small sample size - but it's a worrisome trend.

I sincerely hope that Tulo starts raking again soon and still ends up with the best year of his career. If this team is to be successful in the next few years, the Rockies will need an offense powered by a potent Tulowitzki.

Los Links!

Tulo had some comments about his struggles for Troy Renck.

Closer Rafael Betancourt could be back with the team on Friday. Roy Oswalt hopes to return soon as well.

Benjamin Hochman writes about the Rockies who have hit the ball the hardest this year.

Fangraphs' Dave Cameron writes about how to fix the MLB waiver system.


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