For 10 years Colorado Rockies fans had a front-row seat to the evolution of one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game of baseball. They bore witness to spectacular home runs, jaw-dropping defensive plays, All-Star appearances, and MVP-caliber seasons. They were at the genesis of the modern-day mold of a big league shortstop; one that was big, athletic, and are some of the premiere sluggers in the game.
It’s true that Troy Tulowitzki could have been on a fast track to the Hall of Fame if he had stayed healthier over his 13-year career, but his greatness is best encapsulated by one magical month in 2010 when Tulo set the world on fire.
First, there is a little bit of set-up and context leading up to the month of September 2010. The 2009 Rockies are widely considered the best team in franchise history. After winning a franchise-high 92 games and earning a Wild Card berth, the team saw an early exit from the postseason thanks to the National League Champion Philidelphia Phillies. With the roster mostly intact from the prior year, the Rockies aimed for a repeat of success in 2010.
The Rockies’ goal year-to-year seems to be playing meaningful baseball in September. They were doing just that in 2010, entering the final month of the season just seven games back in the division with a 69-62 record. Through their first 17 games that month, they won 13 of them, including a 10-game winning streak, putting them just one game back in the division.
This success was largely in part to Tulo being back and being healthy. He had missed most of June and July because of a wrist fracture but had healed and was back on the field by the end of July. In August, Tulo batted .351/.417/.521 with three home runs and 16 RBI while posting a 138 wRC+ according to FanGraphs. Tulo was on fire, but he was about to go nuclear the following month.
There are moments when you must sit back and stare in awe as one of the best players of his team, nay, of his generation, takes the field. Tulo’s September of 2010 was must-see television night after night. After going hit-less on September 1, he would fail to tally a hit in just 10 other games. That means he tallied at least one hit in 20 of the final 30 games of the season. He had one two-hit game, five three-hit games, and two four-hit games, equating to 37 hits for the month of September.
The real fun of that September month was the power he showcased. Of those 37 hits 23 of them went for extra bases spread out across six doubles, two triples, and 15 home runs. He managed four games in which he hit two home runs, including an incredible performance on September 15 in which he went 3-for-5 and belted not one, but two three-run home runs to help drive in seven runs against the San Diego Padres in a 9-6 Rockies victory.
Our pals at Blake Street Banter helped compile all 15 of his home runs in this handy YouTube video below.
Speaking of driving in runs, Tulo ended up driving in a whopping 40 runs in the month of September. That mark remains the highest for that particular month in MLB history since Babe Ruth drove in 43 back in September 1927.
By the end of the month, Tulo batted .303/.366/.754 with 15 home runs, 40 RBI, 30 runs scored, 20 strikeouts, and 11 walks. He had an OPS+ of 129 and a 180 wRC+, along with a .363 wOBA, .451 ISO, and 15.5 wRAA. His efforts that month resulted in him being named the National League Player of the Month.
Not all ends are happy
Unfortunately, Tulo and the Rockies entered a free fall in the second half of the month. The team went on to lose 13 of their final 14 games and finished with a 83-79 record, nine games back in the division and eight games back of the Wild Card. Tulo would compile two great games on September 25 and 29 in which he compiled eight total hits and drove in five runs while scoring six, but his efforts and the team were no match against the National League West down the stretch.
Still, Tulo’s magical month in 2010 remains one of the greatest individual performances in a month in not only Rockies history but baseball history. It’s a reminder of the value your key franchise player has when he can carry a team on his back offensively, making other batters in the lineup better. Looking back on the team’s 30th anniversary, it’s a shame that the organization hasn’t celebrated the accomplishments of its players and its history more. It’s a shame that the team would burn all bridges and ruin their relationship with Tulo just five years after his incredible month, making it unlikely he will ever visit Coors Field again to be celebrated as he should be.
Still, as fans and writers, we can do our best to remember and celebrate the good times. In the dog days of summer in 2010, we all had the chance to come along for the ride and witness greatness for a September truly worth remembering.
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Originally reported by Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, once the season is over, the Rockies' television future goes into limbo. AT&T SportsNet is going away which leaves the Rockies looking for a new home. One report from the last week was that Altitude was looking at acquiring the rights, or it could simply revert to MLB carrying the games as they do for the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks currently.
Manny Randhawa filled in for Thomas Harding covering the Rockies over the weekend and he relates some interesting stories about some jobs that Bud Black and Kris Bryant had back in the day before they became Rockies and baseball folk in general.
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On the Farm
Triple-A: Reno Aces 7, Albuquerque Isotopes 6
A ninth-inning rally came up just short for the Isotopes after they scored two runs but couldn’t quite tie it up or walk it off. Jimmy Herron had a stellar night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run home run. In his first game back with Albuquerque, Michael Toglia drew three walks. Tanner Gordon started on the mound, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings of work, and the bullpen put in a solid night to keep the game somewhat close.
Thanks to the power of three home runs, Hartford took down Binghamton by a 6-1 score. Warming Bernabel, Braxton Fulford, and Bladimir Restituyo each belted a home run while Kyle Datres and Yanquiel Fernandez both had two hits apiece. Connor Van Scoyoc started on the mound and tossed 4 2⁄3 innings, allowing one unearned run while striking out seven and walking three.
Nic Kent helped lead the way offensively with a three-hit night as part of a 12-hit game for the Indians. Cuba Bess and Benny Montgomery both had multi-hit nights as well, with Bess tallying a double and a home run. Anderson Pilar started on the mound and was tagged for seven runs in 2 1⁄3 innings. The bullpen kept things closer but gave up three runs that ended up being the difference.
Skyler Messinger belted a three-run home run for the big hit of the night for Fresno, while Jake Snider tallied a pair of hits. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies came up just short despite a stellar bullpen effort following Gabriel Barbosa’s 4 2⁄3 innings start in which he allowed five runs, three earned.
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