Troy Tulowitzki: Fantasy NL LVP

If you need to see the definition of LVP, then please check out Eno’s article where he describes the fantasy awards that we’re doling out here. You can also just accept that it stands for Least Valuable Player and stay with me right here. It’s pretty self-explanatory, right? And with the title of the piece, obviously you know who won. But rather than just declare Troy Tulowitzki as the guy who screwed fantasy owners over the most and walk away with the shortest article in RotoGraphs history, let’s look into it a little further.

With 17 RotoGraphs writers voting, here’s how the ballots tallied for the category:

Troy Tulowitzki  (12)
Tim Lincecum  (3)
Justin Upton  (1)
Lance Berkman  (1)

While the voting wasn’t unanimous, Tulo was the clear-cut winner in a landslide vote. And why wouldn’t he be? He was a no-brainer, first-round draft choice and likely even a top five pick in numerous leagues. His auction value in standard, non-keeper, mixed leagues was likely between $25 and $30 while in NL-only play he probably cost anywhere from $30 to $35.  And for that price, fantasy owners received 203 plate appearances that netted them just 33 runs scored, eight home runs, 27 RBI and a pair of stolen bases.  Not quite the return on their investment they were expecting, was it?

After a modest start in April, Tulo began to turn it up in May and it looked as if he was going to be worth every auction dollar or first round draft pick. Unlike Jacoby Ellsbury, who won the AL LVP award, Tulo was doing just fine to start the season. Across the board, his numbers were both strong and comparable to his career totals with sound showings in rate stats such as ISO and wOBA. He even had a slightly lower than usual strikeout rate, but again, the 200-plus plate appearances is still a relatively small sample.

He was on his way to another year as the league’s top shortstop until a groin injury hit at the end of May. By the end of June, surgery was deemed necessary and his return for the season was in question. While owners were teased with hope for a return on occasion in August, he was officially shut down in September and never played another game in 2012. Your first round draft choice was a bust. Your auction dollars were wasted.

It’s all pretty cut and dry really. Given his injury history, you knew that there was a risk that he would lose some time during the season, but never did anyone think that he would lose four of the six months to the year. What can you do? That’s the way it goes. Injuries happen and some are obviously more severe than others. Should that deter you from investing in Tulo again next year? Probably not. Obviously it would linger somewhere in the back of my mind, but when it comes down to drafting in 2013, you have to be smart and realize that, when healthy, he’s still the best fantasy shortstop out there.

Of the others who received votes, it’s easy to understand why they got the nod, but also why they weren’t the final winner.  Upton has been both injury prone and inconsistent throughout his five and a half seasons and, in my opinion, a questionable first-rounder to begin with, Lincecum’s numbers have been in significant decline for the last three years, and did anyone really think Berkman was going to repeat his previous season’s totals? OK, maybe one guy did. But while none of these guys paid a decent dividend on their investment, they still cost less and provided more than our “winner”, Mr. Tulowitzki.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

10 Responses to “Troy Tulowitzki: Fantasy NL LVP”

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  1. Eminor3rd says:

    I don’t know whether or not to keep him at $51 in Ottoneu. His injury left me scrambling, and I ended up with Simmons and Rutledge at low prices. I was planning on cutting Bautista ($50) because he was losing 3B eligibility, but OF ended up shallower than I thought. If you had to pick one of them to cut in my situation, which would you choose?

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      Tulowitzki’s health seems like a real question at this point, while JBau was more of a one-time thing. I doubt either of those guys go for $50, though. Easiest thing to do is look at the prices Hanley Ramirez and other overpriced throw-backs went for last year in your league and see. I bet they went for $40+, meaning you can get back in if you want, or you can spend your $40+ somewhere else.

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      • Stuck in a slump says:

        I would be more worried if he had a history of groin problems, but that’s not the case, he’s had a rash of quad problems with only one serious quad injury in the past and he’s had injuries from being hit by pitches.

        In spring training he developed the injury and played through the pain at the start of the season, by May it looked like he might be over it when he aggravated the injury and then went down for the season.

        Tulo had already acknowledged that he didn’t properly strengthen his going in the off season last year and is going to make a concerted effort to rectify the problem next year.

        Will he get hurt next year? I’d say probably, but I have serious doubts that he’ll get seriously injured again. The potential that he has when healthy and Tulo’s lack of previous groin injuries make me confident that he’s a good late first round pick/keeper still.

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  2. Jim says:

    Shame that Tulo and Longoria seem to be such injury magnets. It would have been nice to have had a couple of monster infielders around for the next decade. Now they appear to be Rocco Baldelli’ing their ways out of baseball.

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  3. NL ONLY says:

    I had Tulo in my NL only and i still won; however, I also had Medlen and Chapman

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  4. Todd says:

    Picking someone who had an injury is sort of lame. I’d be more interested in seeing a ‘winner’ that actually played the full year. Lincecum seems like a good choice.

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    • Howard Bender says:

      I’m not a huge fan of picking someone who got hurt, but if we’re strictly talking investment/return, then injury or no injury, it’s got to be Tulo.

      I agree that Lincecum was a total bust this year and went higher than where he should have gone, but if you looked at his peripherals over the last three seasons, there were strong enough indicators that an additional decline was still coming. He went so high because people either refused to believe it or they were blindly drafting based on name and reputation from first two seasons. I didn’t vote for him because I never believed in him this season in the first place.

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  5. Michael says:

    I think the fact that he continually was announced as “just about to return” so owners couldn’t even drop him until the very last 2 days of the season just cements his status.

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  6. masonzippo says:

    I had Tulo ($52), Longo ($45), Lincecum ($45), and Lester $(31) as my top four players to begin the year. I gave up on all but Tulo during the year (too stubborn to admit failure in that case). I was able to swap Lester to a frustrated Wainwright owner straight up in late May, and salvaged cap room by cutting Longo at the end of June (when his rehab was shut down), but the hole I dug for myself was vast and deep. Not asking for or expecting sympathy, but somehow this is cathartic.

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