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Troy Tulowitzki: The Captain of the Blue Jays’ Infield

Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

People often say the David Price trade was the turning point for the 2015 Blue Jays. In actuality, it was the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki that changed everything for the Blue Jays. It legitimized the Blue Jays into a playoff contender; the David Price deal was merely the icing on the cake.

Nobody saw the Troy Tulowitzki trade coming; not even Tulowitzki himself. He even admitted he was blindsided by the trade, but Tulowitzki recently told John Perrotto of FanRag Sports that “getting traded here is the best thing that could have happened to my career”.

It’s also the best thing that could’ve happened to the Toronto Blue Jays.



The tide may have started to change in late 2014 when the Blue Jays signed Russell Martin and acquired Josh Donaldson, but a certain air of professionalism arrived in Toronto when one of the best shortstops in baseball joined the Blue Jays.

Tulo also told FanRag Sports “I had forgotten just how much fun it was to win”. A reinvigorated and re-energized Tulowitzki helped guide the Blue Jays to consecutive trips to the ALCS. That wasn’t an accident.

Troy Tulowitzki has experienced his share of ups and downs over the last 18 months, but there have been more highs than lows. A few trips to the disabled list since 2015 limited his games played, but when healthy and in the field, Tulowitzki is a difference-maker.

After a rough April and a stint on the DL throughout part of May and June last year, Tulowitzki returned on June 18th and hit .280/.333/.474 with an .807 OPS and 16 home runs in his final 85 games of the season.

That sounds like the kind of Troy Tulowitzki the Blue Jays picked up at the 2015 trade deadline.

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The Blue Jays have never been one to declare any of their players as a “captain”, but if ever there was a guy who should wear the “C”, it would be Tulowitzki. He embodies the qualities you look for in a leader; professional, passionate and eager to help others.

To cross over into another sport, and I know this might sound weird and totally unfounded, but Troy Tulowitzki reminds me a lot of Sidney Crosby. Both seem very even-keel, are consummate professionals and are very pragmatic about the way they play the game.

Even in the way Tulowitzki speaks in his interviews is very “captain-esque”. In terms of baseball players, Troy Tulowitzki most-closely resembles the player he grew up idolizing: Derek Jeter.



It’s now year three of six for Troy Tulowitzki in a Blue Jays uniform. At the time of signing that big contract with the Rockies back in 2010, he was the best shortstop in the game. He’ll continue to be paid like a marquee shortstop, but the recent influx of young, talented shortstops, Tulo has tumbled down the list when it comes to the best shortstops in the game.

He’s had to make way for Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Xander Bogaerts and other cornerstone shortstops. The baton has already been passed to that crop of players, but Troy Tulowitzki is still an elite talent in his own right.

Much like with a healthy Devon Travis, a healthy Troy Tulowitzki on the field for the Toronto Blue Jays is a difference-maker. Not only on offense, but defense; even though Tulo’s offensive numbers have eroded over the years, he still plays Gold Glove-calibre defense.

Tulowitzki did his most damage last season hitting fifth and sixth in the lineup last year, and I’d expect him to do likely hit behind Kendrys Morales, with maybe the odd game batting sixth.

If John Gibbons really wants to get crazy, he can do what he’s done in a few games this spring and bat Troy Tulowitzki second. I’d be in favour of pretty much any lineup configuration, so long as Troy Tulowitzki is in it.

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If you ask most people, they’d probably say the Blue Jays are “Donaldson’s team”. You may even get the odd vote for Jose Bautista as the leader of the Blue Jays. But the more I think about, the more I think it’s Troy Tulowitzki who is helming the ship.

A lot of people on the roster look up to Troy Tulowitzki. I mean, Rowdy Tellez took Tulo out to dinner just so the rookie could take notes and pointers from the season veteran.

Tulowitzki is a father himself, but he also has this “infield dad” quality about him. Donaldson is the wild and rambunctious kid, Travis is the little brother of the group, Martin is the straight-A student and … whoever at first base is whoever at first base.

Tulowitzki is there to take care of all of them; to let them make mistakes, but also to guide them and help them improve. He carries that quality about him – he makes players around him accountable – something which was severely lacking in the Blue Jays clubhouse.

When I watch Troy Tulowitzki play, he makes everything look so effortless. That’s the hallmark of a talented player; one which the Blue Jays will have around until 2020.

 
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Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

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1 Comment

  1. Mira

    March 31, 2017 - 1:49 pm

    No, Tulowitzki isn’t a dirty player and he doesn’t cry to the refs all that much.

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