Does Troy Tulowitzki Suffer Without Carlos Gonzalez?

Does Troy Tulowitzki suffer without Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup?

Several weeks ago, in the same way my last article on rookie first and second half splits was inspired, my attention was alerted when a podcast personality contrived that Troy Tulowitzki, before his most recent bout with the injury bug, had performed poorly because Carlos Gonzalez had been out of the lineup.

The pundit grabbed the lowest handing fruit he could find in an effort to create a narrative, and a dogmatic one at that, as to why the Colorado Rockies slugger had not lived up to his pre All-Star break numbers.

******* *******’s (I’d prefer the article to be more about the subject of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez than the podcast member) argument was that without Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup, pitchers could approach Tulowitzki without fear, give him less strikes, and that is why his hitting has declined.

While this pundit surmised that Troy Tulowitzki’s performance declines when Carlos Gonzalez is out of the lineup, the numbers tell a much different story.

While we will look at the more direct numbers in a moment, the idea that Tulowitzki plays worse without Gonzalez is essentially the idea of lineup protection at a micro level. There have been countless instances that have debunked the idea of lineup protection, and, to my knowledge, none that have proved its existence.

Screen Shot 2014-08-10 at 6.02.45 PM

The research looked at all games from 2010—Carlos Gonzalez’ first complete season—to today.

The results paint a much lighter picture than the Guernica that ******* ******* painted.

In games where Tulo has played without Cargo, he has had a higher AVG, OBP, OPS, and BB%. One might think that Tulowitzki would continue his normal performance without Carlos Gonzalez in the lineup, but, as this information suggests, it is hard to imagine that Tulo plays better because Carlos Gonzalez is not in the lineup, which leads me to believe what one would normally think about out of the ordinary performances in a small amount of at bats.

The utility of these results should be used for descriptive, and not predictive, purposes. Troy Tulowitzki has only had 479 plate appearances without Carlos Gonzalez, and that is far from a large enough sample size to be deemed reliable.

But because of the recent remarks made by Tulowitzki, it seems like it will be more likely than not that sooner rather than later we will see a large enough of a sample size of Tulo in another uniform to see if this trend continues.

While Tulo has played worse and is hurt as of late, we might expect that it is because he was unlikely to live up to the performance he had in the first half, and not because of Cargo’s presence or lack thereof in the lineup. Over the course of the first half of the season, Tulowitzki’s posted the 15th best OPS in a half of a season since 2010.

Tulo’s latest play suggests a regression to the mean, and while we are powerless to know exactly why regression happens, some pundits proclaim to know the reason (i.e. Tulo plays worse without Carlos Gonzalez), when really their specious statement is noise with a coat of eloquent words painted upon it.

When the next “expert” tells you that Tulo has preformed poorly, because “ he wants out of Colorado” or  “he wants to be traded”, you’ll know to be more skeptical and not passively agree.

If he gets healthy at some point this season, we should expect Tulowitzki to perform close to his projections in all areas for the rest of the year, and it will be with or without Carlos Gonzalez, not because of him.




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2 Responses to “Does Troy Tulowitzki Suffer Without Carlos Gonzalez?”

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  1. TheWrightStache says:

    First off, good article. It’s always worth disproving the talking heads. But I think it’s worth recognizing that you disproved them on rather narrow grounds.

    Tulo does not get WORSE with CarGo out, but the way he produces the same value is different.

    Without CarGo, Tulo’s AVG, OBP, and BB% go up (I’m leaving out OPS because that’s just a combo of two stats I want to discuss separately). The increase in OBP (because it’s higher than just the increase in AVG) seems to stem from the increased BB%, which does lend credence to the theory of being “pitched around”. Without CarGo, his SLG and ISO go down, which may indicate getting fewer hitter’s pitches that he can drive, also in line with the idea of pitchers not giving him anything good. The increase in AVG may just be a BABIP mirage, but if it isn’t, his swapping out of extra bases for singles without CarGo could also be evidence of getting fewer pitches he can hit with authority.

    In the end, you are correct that his production does not suffer. But the way it doesn’t suffer might be what makes the underlying theory advanced by the podcast person not wrong.

    side note: the scale of the bar graph might be a touch misleading. 45 points of OBP is a big difference but the graph seems to undersell the point.

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    • Devin Jordan says:

      I’d agree, but the difference without Cargo in SLG% isn’t close to a decrease of one standard deviation for the ’10 to ’14 time period, while the ISO is closer but still not above one std.

      The point of this is just that it is meaning trying to be placed around randomness, when no meaning exists. Any player can hit above or below one standard deviation from their averages for a period of time, but doing so for an extended period of time suggests meaning, and the samples here cannot permeate that.

      Thank you for the comment, and I appreciate the time you took to read the article and give thoughtful feedback.

      bouna fortuna

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