Could Another MVP Come out of Toronto?

by Brendan Panikkar | Posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2016
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Troy Tulowitzki will win the 2016 AL MVP

Troy Tulowitzki will win the 2016 AL MVP

2015 marked the return to the playoffs for the first time since 1993 for the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a welcome sight for fans of all ages to see playoff baseball return to Toronto, including being just 10 innings shy of a berth in the World Series. While the usual suspects of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion continued to do Jose and Edwin things, it was Josh Donaldson who was the true centerpiece of the magical season along with deadline help from David Price and Troy Tulowitzki among others.

Donaldson’s season was truly breathtaking. There was not another player in the majors that you would want at the plate with the game hanging in the balance than Donaldson. His 41 home runs, 122 runs scored, 123 RBI, .297 average, .371 OBP, 154 wRC+, and 8.7 fWAR led him to win the AL MVP over Mike Trout. Donaldson was the catalyst all season to late inning rallies, walkoffs and more. It was a treat to watch.

While Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Russell MartinMarco Estrada, and others were doing it all season long, David Price‘s impact was huge. Acquired from the Detroit Tigers at the deadline, David Price went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA at 2.7 fWAR in 11 starts with Toronto. While Price was a massive addition and ultimately a key to a playoff berth, it was Troy Tulowitzki who had the bigger impact on the 2015 Blue Jays push to the post-season.

Many fans seem to be clamouring and holding on to the whole David Price saga as a massive red flag going into the 2016 season, people have forgotten than a likely replacement for Price in Marcus Stroman is ready to fill in for Price. People also seem to be overlooking the fact that the Blue Jays will have a full season of Troy Tulowitzki, a likely Hall of Famer at shortstop instead of Jose Reyes.

Part of the reason for the overlook by many on Tulo is the fact his half season in Toronto was somewhat underwhelming with the bat. Tulowitzki is one of the best hitting shortstops in the history of the game. His .239 average, 91 wRC+, and only 5 home runs and 17 RBI during the regular season should be forgotten. His glove didn’t change, and that’s the great thing about Tulo. Despite the struggles with the bat, you know you will always have Gold Glove defense with Tulo at short. Besides, Tulowitzki came up huge in the playoffs. The 3 run home run against the Texas Rangers in game 3, the 3 run homer off of Johnny Cueto in Game 3 of the ALCS, and the bases clearing double in Game 5 to back Estrada’s gem are examples of the real Troy Tulowitzki.

Since the start of his career in 2005, Tulowitzki has the 4th best WAR in baseball for shortstops. Injuries have derailed many of his seasons and likely MVPs along the way, but when healthy, there is nobody better than Tulowitzki at short. Add on to the fact that Troy Tulowitzki has the best fielding percentage of any shortstop in baseball history, and you get a potential MVP candidate when healthy for a full season.

Health has always been the knock on Tulowitzki. He has only played 140+ games 3 seasons in his career. However, even in seasons cut short by injury such as 2014, he remains productive. In just 91 games in 2014, Tulo posted a ridiculous 5.2 fWAR.

Now, the mid-season trade away from the Colorado Rockies was not just a shock to absolutely everyone in and around the game of baseball, but it was completely life changing for Tulo. Being a Rockie from 2005 to 2015 was a hard thing to move on from. Add on to the fact Tulo was the face of the franchise for his entire career and the best Colorado Rockie in Rockies history, it was definitely an adjustment for Tulowitzki coming to a new team AND new country.

Coming into the 2016 season, Blue Jays fans should expect to see an MVP calibre season from Tulo. A fresh start to bond with the team for a full season, a clean slate of health, and a much better offense around him should lead to an incredible year from the 31 year old shortstop.

Tulowitzki owns a career .297 average, .369 OBP, .377 wOBA, 126 wRC+, and a .9855 fielding percentage. Tulowitzki had the advantage of hitting in Coors Field for his career, but now throw him into another launching pad in the Rogers Centre, and the rest of the launching pads in the AL East, I think Troy Tulowitzki has a legitimate shot at winning the 2016 AL MVP should he stay healthy and should the Blue Jays make the post-season again.

There isn’t much to argue against Tulowitzki having a big season in Toronto. Ballpark factors, hitting in a lineup with the 2015 AL MVP, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Colabello, Russell Martin, and eventually Devon TravisTulo should benefit immensely.

I’m going to call it now on January 31st. A healthy Troy Tulowitzki will win the 2016 AL MVP.

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Brendan Panikkar
About the Author

Brendan Panikkar is a graduate of Brock University's Sport Management program. Currently, he is the Vice-President, Customer Service at North Aware. He loves all sports but baseball and football take precedent over hockey and basketball. Teams: Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Argonauts, San Francisco 49ers, Toronto Raptors

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