Troy Tulowitzki is putting up numbers that have him as the frontrunner for the NL MVP, and while the 6’3″ shortstop from Santa Clara, CA is hitting better than anyone in MLB, it is his fielding abilities that are often forgotten. Hitting is what most fans tend to focus on, especially when a guy is hitting .356, and has 17 HR, 43 RBI, and a .448 OBP to go along with the highest batting average in the big leagues. Fielding is not often the talk of the town around the office water cooler, but with Tulowitzki’s golden glove at shortstop, it would be difficult not to discuss his fielding brilliance.
In 278 total chances this season, Tulowitzki has coughed the ball up just two times, once on a ground ball, and the other coming as a throwing error. Not only does he lead the league in hitting, he also leads all MLB shortstops in fielding percentage at .993, and comes in fourth in total assists with 190. The two-time Gold Glove winner is setting the bar high for all shortstops, and as he continues to progress as a hitter and as one of the best infielders in baseball, he is slowing asserting himself as the premier shortstop. At 29-years-old, he still has plenty of years to prove himself at the bat, but the evidence of his fielding has already been proven, and when looking at him side-by-side with some of the greatest shortstops of all-time, not only does he match up with them, he has climbed to the top of the fielding list.
When discussing some of the greatest fielding shortstops of all-time, names like Ozzie Smith, Cal Ripken Jr. and Omar Vizquel rise to the top of the conversation, yet Troy Tulowitzki’s name rarely finds its way into the fielding conversation. Now in his ninth season, his sample size is large enough to compare him to some of those players, and as his total chances approach 4,500, he deserves his place alongside those past players. Currently, Tulowitzki’s .9857 fielding percentage ranks number one all-time for shortstops, just ahead of Omar Vizquel, who successfully completed .9847 of his 11,961 attempts throughout his long, 24 year career. Ozzie Smith, who is well known in MLB history for his acrobatic plays, and incredible range when going deep into the hole and up the middle behind second base is considered by many to be the greatest fielding shortstop, yet, even “The Wizard” falls behind Tulowitzki in fielding percentage with a career success rate of .9782.
It may be too early to crown Tulowitzki as the greatest shortstop of all-time, whether it be at the bat, or in the field, but if his numbers hold steady throughout his career, his name will undoubtedly go down with the best of the best. With two Gold Gloves already under his belt, and currently on track to earn a third award this season, Tulowitzki, who also appears to be transforming into a consistent .300 hitter is making waves throughout MLB as one of the great all-around threats.
Commentary by Johnny Caito