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John Dewan's Stat of the Week


Tulowitzki is a Defensive Upgrade Over Reyes

July 31, 2015

Prior to the Blue Jays trading for David Price, they surprised the baseball universe with the first major deal of this year’s trade deadline period by snagging Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies in exchange for Jose Reyes and several prospects. The reason for everyone’s shock is that the Blue Jays already had the best offense in baseball. The conventional wisdom was that they needed to upgrade their run prevention via their pitching staff. However, not only does Tulowitzki help set the Blue Jays further ahead of the pack on offense, but he also improves the Blue Jays’ run prevention by being a significantly better defender than Reyes.

In the table below is a year-by-year breakdown of Tulowitzki’s and Reyes’ Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) totals starting with Tulo’s first full year in the big leagues.

Defensive Runs Saved at Shortstop, 2007-15
Season Tulowitzki Reyes Difference
2007 31 11 20
2008 2 -2 4
2009 13 -1 14
2010 16 -5 21
2011 12 -14 26
2012 -6 -16 10
2013 6 -4 10
2014 7 -16 23
2015* 0 -9 9
Average 9 -6 15

*Through July 30

Back in 2007, Reyes was one of the better shortstops in baseball, when his 11 DRS ranked him eighth among all shortstops that year. The same was actually true in 2006 as well, when Reyes saved nine runs defensively, which ranked him sixth among all shortstops in baseball. However, since then, his defense has seen a fairly significant decline.

Tulowitzki’s defensive abilities have also declined from the lofty heights that he entered the league at, but he is still generally an asset in the field. Even this season, when Tulowitzki has just been average defensively, that is still significantly better than Reyes has been. In fact, during the time period shown in the table above, on average Tulowtizki has been about 15 runs per season better than Reyes. Using the general rule of thumb that 10 runs translates to one win, Tulo has been about 1.5 wins per year better than Reyes based on their defensive abilities alone.

Furthermore, there is some past research that shows infielders generally perform consistently on grass and turf—i.e., if they are good on grass, they’re good on turf. If they are bad on one, they are bad on the other. Reyes himself has performed about the same on each surface—poorly on both. Tulowitzki has barely ever played on turf, but in the few opportunities that he has had, he has performed well. Therefore, at the very least, we should not expect the change in surfaces to affect the ability of each player to make plays.

It remains to be seen whether the moves that the Blue Jays have made at this year’s trade deadline will benefit them with a playoff berth in the short term or sustained success in the long term (especially with all the prospects they gave up to acquire Tulo and Price). However, it can be said with certainty that the Blue Jays have substantially upgraded their defense at the shortstop position for the foreseeable future.

Search Archived Stats of the Week

Published Date:

 TitlePublished Date
Edit Tulowitzki is a Defensive Upgrade Over Reyes Jul 31 2015
Edit Curtis Granderson Defense-Independent Batting Statistics Jul 24 2015
Edit Infield Hits by Speed Score Jul 07 2015
Edit Is Max Scherzer the World’s Best Pitcher? Jun 29 2015
Edit AL Central – Defense-Independent Standings Jun 17 2015
Edit Who Will Throw the Next No-Hitter? Jun 11 2015
Edit 2015 Booms and Busts May 29 2015
Edit Are the Padres’ Outfielders Hitting Enough? May 20 2015
Edit Who are the Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far? May 14 2015
Edit Who's Hot and Who's Not...according to Bill James Apr 30 2015
Edit Shifts Continue to Rise Apr 23 2015
Edit Home Runs and Home Run Robberies Apr 15 2015
Edit What is the Upper Limit of Shifts? Mar 30 2015
Edit A Strike on Every Pitch? Mar 20 2015
Edit Could Jonathan Lucroy Be As Good As Yadier Molina? Mar 06 2015
Edit Who Will Be The 2015 Statistical Leaders? Feb 26 2015
Edit Shift or Get Off the Pot Feb 13 2015
Edit The Best Projected Defensive Infield and Outfield Feb 06 2015
Edit Let's Eliminate The Shift Jan 30 2015
Edit The Most Pitcher & Hitter Friendly Umpires Jan 16 2015
Edit The Best Baserunning Team in MLB Jan 09 2015
Edit Are Defensive Runs Saved Predictive? Dec 31 2014
Edit The Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions Dec 19 2014
Edit The Flat Bat Award 2014 Dec 04 2014
Edit Mark Buehrle – One of the Most Durable Pitchers of All Time Nov 25 2014
Edit Is Madison Bumgarner the World's #1 Starting Pitcher? Nov 14 2014
Edit Giants Defensive Positioning a Big Assist in Game 7 Victory Nov 05 2014
Edit The 2014 Fielding Bible Awards Oct 30 2014
Edit Who Gives a Shift? Oct 23 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part II) Oct 06 2014
Edit Who are the 2014 Fielding Bible Award / Gold Glove Contenders? (Part I) Oct 01 2014
Edit Pitchers with the Best and Worst Run Support Sep 18 2014
Edit Which teams have come on in the second half? Sep 09 2014
Edit Instant Replay Sep 02 2014
Edit Top Defensive Players for 2014 Aug 20 2014
Edit Who Are The 2014 MVP Candidates? Aug 08 2014
Edit How Do Shifts Affect League-Wide Batting Averages? Jul 25 2014
Edit The Best and Worst Baserunners in 2014 Jul 18 2014
Edit The White Sox Blow Another Lead Jul 10 2014
Edit Shifts Against Right-Handed Hitters Jun 26 2014
Edit Cannon Arms in 2014 Jun 10 2014
Edit The Most Improved Defensive Teams Jun 06 2014
Edit How Many More No-Hitters This Year? May 29 2014
Edit Rookie of the Year – Tanaka or Abreu? May 16 2014
Edit Can the National League Reverse a 10-Year Trend? May 09 2014
Edit Who Are the Best and Worst Defensive Teams So Far? Apr 25 2014
Edit Shifts Still on the Rise Apr 18 2014
Edit Can the First 10 Games Predict Playoff Chances? Apr 11 2014
Edit Who Will Be The 2014 Statistical Leaders? Mar 31 2014
Edit Can Spring Training Statistics Predict Breakout Power Seasons? Mar 25 2014
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