Troy Tulowitzki is on pace for the best offensive season ever in modern times


(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Troy Tulowitzki has been MLB’s best player so far this season. His 4.6 wins above replacement is tops among all players and he leads the league in batting average (0.373), on-base percentage (0.476), slugging (0.711) and runs scored (45).

“There’s no doubt Coors Field is a good place to hit,” said Tulowitzki.

He is being modest: Coors Field is the best place to hit.

The most extreme hitters’ park in baseball thanks to its high altitude, Coors Field remains an offensive boon even since the introduction of humidors to keep baseballs from drying out. The park has spacious dimensions that should rob some homers (347/350 to left and right, 415 to center, 390/375 in the alleys) but all that green also makes for easy doubles and triples. No park in baseball has been as hitter-friendly in modern times.

Playing half his games in the friendly confines of Coors field is pushing Tulowitzki’s on-base plus slugging (1.187) to historic levels, even after you adjust for for league and park effects by using OPS+.

On-base Plus Slugging Plus (OPS+) normalizes a player’s OPS — it adjusts for small variables that might affect OPS scores (e.g. park effects) and puts the statistic on an easy-to-understand scale. A 100 OPS+ is league average, and each point up or down is one percentage point above or below league average. In other words, if a player had a 90 OPS+ last season, that means their OPS was 10% below league average.

Since OPS+ adjusts for league and park effects, it’s possible to use OPS+ to compare players from different years and on different teams.

In the history of Coors Field, Tulowitzki’s current campaign would be better than any other Colorado hitter, including the monster seasons of Larry Walker and Todd Helton (bold indicates led the league in that metric).

Player Year BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Troy Tulowitzki 2014 0.373 0.476 0.711 1.187 205
Larry Walker 1997 0.366 0.452 0.720 1.172 178
Todd Helton 2004 0.347 0.469 0.620 1.088 165
Todd Helton 2003 0.358 0.458 0.630 1.088 165
Larry Walker 1999 0.379 0.458 0.710 1.168 164
Todd Helton 2000 0.372 0.463 0.698 1.162 163
Larry Walker 2001 0.350 0.449 0.662 1.111 160
Todd Helton 2001 0.336 0.432 0.685 1.116 160
Larry Walker 1998 0.363 0.445 0.630 1.075 158
Larry Walker 2002 0.338 0.421 0.602 1.023 151

Heck, Tulowitzki’s season is approaching historic levels for any hitter in any park since the 1961 expansion.

After discounting the seasons from Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire because of their use of performance-enhancing drugs, Tulowitzki season is in line with Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Willie McCovey and Mickey Mantle.

And did I mention Tulowitzki plays shortstop?

Tulowitzki ranks sixth among fielders in Ultimate Zone Rating (6.3), which attempts to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess, and is on pace for 37 fielding runs.

Right now the only thing standing in Tulowitzki’s way of a historic season is health. Last season, he played in just 126 games because of injuries and the year before saw 47 games of action. If he can keep himself in the lineup, not only is the National League most valuable player award on the horizon but also a season for the ages.

 

 

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced statistics for all sports and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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