When you stumble across a shortstop that’s not only a good hitter at his position, but is also capable of producing league leading numbers (or close) in a few categories, it’s certainly understandable that fantasy owners everywhere would want to get their hands on them.
Let’s do a quick Tale of the Tape and show 2013’s numbers.
- Why I Like Tulo
We’ll start with what’s worked for every Rockies hitter since 1995 — Coors Field. The place is custom made for hitters and when you get to play half of your games in that place, your numbers are going to be inflated.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at some of Tulo’s relevant numbers.
|2007, 2009-2011, 2013||157||521||89||28||95||10||.301**|
|Career 162 Game Averages||179||607||101||29||103||10||.295|
**His actual average in those years was .302, but using normal rounding rules, his average season had 157 hits, which knocked the average down one point.**
Those are great numbers, but there’s nothing more terrifying that Tulo on a hot streak. This is a guy who’s proven on multiple occasions that he can hit .330 or better in a month. He’s also shown that he can hit 15 home runs and drive in 40 runs in a month before. As a point of reference, Jean Segura was the top ranked shortstop in ESPN fantasy leagues in 2013. Segura’s not a power hitter, but he hit 12 home runs and drove in 49 runs — all season. Tulo has shown that he can equal a season’s top fantasy shortstop in power in one month.
That’s why Tulo is so incredible. There are two terrifying things for a fantasy baseball owner.
- Spending a huge auction budget on Ryan Braun, only to find out that you actually just bought the scrub reliever.
- Realizing that Tulo is on a hot streak and that one of your closest rivals has him on his team.
I was going against Tulo in a head-to-head playoff semifinal matchup in the month where he hit 15 home runs. That’s why as a fantasy baseball player, I am more proud that I won that week (even HR’s and RBI’s) than I am of any of my championships. The guy is just that good and when he gets hot, he’s at the Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera level.
That, plus he’s got a decent supporting cast. With Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler, and emerging players like DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado, there are plenty of players around Tulo to get him pitches and help his numbers. When he’s on the field, Tulo is not just a great fantasy shortstop, he’s a great fantasy hitter, period.
- Why I Don’t Like Tulo
Look at the table of numbers above, You may be asking yourself a few questions.
- What happened in 2008 and 2012?
- Why didn’t I just list his seasonal averages instead of his 162 game averages?
Actually, you’re probably not asking yourself those questions. It’s not a new scoop, you know the answers. Tulo just doesn’t stay healthy and is usually a Top-20 pick. So, he’s a HUGE risk.
Really, he’s played in 150 games only twice in a season, and never since 2009. As good as his stats were in 2010 and 2013, he failed to play 130 games both times. Throw in the fact that the Rockies haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 or topped .500 since 2010, and it gets even worse. If a star player is hurt, bad teams are going to be far more likely to be conservative in bringing him back. That’s happened with Tulo and the Rockies before. On top of all of that, while Tulowitzki is only 29, injuries don’t tend to be eased as players get closer to 30.
- In All
When he’s on the field, there’s no shortstop like Troy Tulowitzki, on par with Robinson Cano at second base. But unlike Robby, you have a history of risk with injuries. Other than maybe steals, Tulo isn’t weak anywhere, but the threat of injury gives him the real risk of being an across the board bust.
- Why I Like Hanley
Injuries have been an issue in the past, but nowhere near as often as they have been for Tulo. Hanley has only failed to play 140 games twice in his career (92 games in 2011 and 86 games in 2013), and has only been under 150 one more time (2010).
Now, Hanley has at times had his effort and dedication questioned. Ask Nash or Clave, I’ve done it plenty. But you know when I haven’t done it? Since he got traded to the Dodgers. Playing for the Marlins and under Jeffery Loria, I don’t imagine it’s very hard to lose your focus and interest.
With the Dodgers, Hanley surrounded by the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier to get you some pitches to hit. Here are a few more names. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. They have hitters that are at least on par with the Colorado hitters, and the pitchers to keep the Dodgers at least in contention and more likely than not, in the playoffs again. That’s more than enough to keep Hanley interested, and on the field, even if he’s banged up.
Oh, and it’s not just the supporting cast. Hanley’s pretty dangerous in his own right. I don’t want to to completely eliminate his injury seasons because eliminating 2013 would actually hurt him in some regards. Instead, let’s just do this.
|Career 162 Game Averages||189||626||112||26||86||37||.302|
Hanley’s had some injuries so 162 games is not likely, but those are pretty exceptional numbers, even if you lower them a bit when factoring in some bumps and bruises.
- Why I Don’t Like Hanley
Please allow myself to quote…myself? Not an original joke, but a classic. Anyway.
Hanley has only failed to play 140 games twice in his career (92 games 2011 and 86 games 2013), and has only been under 150 one more time (2010).
Does anything jump out at you, there? I can’t help but notice that three of his most injury prone seasons have happened in the last three years, and he failed to play in 100 games in the most recent two of those years. Sure, he played in 157 games in 2012 but for a guy who will be 30 in December, what’s the anomaly? The injury prone 2011 and 2013 seasons, or the healthy 2012? I do trust him to be on the field more than Hanley, but the edge is dwindling.
Something else that’s dwindling? I love that .345 average in 2013, but I hate that he was a .269 hitter from 2010-2012, and a .252 hitter from 2011-2012. I also don’t like that he’s not stealing as many bases as he used to. Comparing him to Tulo, Hanley still has a big edge. But it’s not as big as it used to be and realistically, you probably need to bank on him stealing about 25 more than Rulo to close the other gaps in a big way. Remember, steals are the easiest offensive category to make up on the waiver wire.
So, I have no problem saying that if Tulo’s within 15 games of Hanley, he’ll be the better fantasy player. Hanley will steal more bases, but Tulo’s a far better hitter. He also has Coors Field, while Hanley has Dodger Stadium, which is the anti-Coors Field in many ways. That’s not Hanley’s fault, but the reason the numbers were achieved in fantasy doesn’t matter. The numbers are what carry the day. The stadium is a big edge.
Hanley’s only advantage comes from the fact that they’re both in the NL West and play divisional opponents more than anyone else. Obviously, they’ll both face the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Padres pitchers the same. But, if we’re willing to make the big assumption that both will be healthy Tulo will have to deal with the Dodgers pitchers over 19 games, while Hanley will get to face Rockies pitchers in those same games.
That helps, but again, if they’re on the field a similar amount of times, Tulo’s the better player. Hanley needs to have a big games played edge to be the better fantasy player.
- In All
Another big risk. Not only are you worried about the growing threat of injuries, but a little bit more inconsistency in his performance. To be fair, I don’t think you can completely judge Hanley Ramirez by his last few years with the Marlins. But I also don’t think you can think you’re going to get 2013 production again and I certainly don’t think you can extrapolate the counted stats.
Having said that, he doesn’t need to be as good as he was in 2013 to be a fantastic fantasy shortstop in 2014. If he’s really found new life in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him close to what he was at the beginning of his career, even if the numbers are a little more modest.
WHO’D I RATHER?
With all due respect to both of these great players, neither will be getting an invitation join any of my fantasy baseball teams in 2014. These are both early round/big auction budget guys and I just don’t like that kind of risk with the top guys on my roster. I’m sure they’re crestfallen.
But if I did roster one, it would be Tulo.
Now, I can’t stand the Dodgers and I hated Hanley in 2013, which means he had a great year. Actually, it was phenomenal. I’m not doubting that in any way. The increasing risk of injury is just hard to get past. That’s true for Tulo, too, but it’s always been.
Remember, I said that if they were within 15 games played, I’d take Tulo. Well, in 2013 they weren’t, Tulo played in 40 more games.Yes, Hanley had a great year even with the missed games, but again, expecting that again isn’t realistic. Yes, he can do it again, but don’t plan on it if you own him. Tulo’s production can be banked on a little more, even if he has a trip or two to the DL.
OBLIGATORY EARLY 2014 PROJECTIONS