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We're Going Streaking! Tulo is Colorado's second-half sunflower

Big League Stew

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Big League Stew goes through the quad and into the gymnasium to look at some of the hottest players in baseball and their chances of keeping it going.

Troy Tulowitzki(notes), Colorado Rockies

The Naked Truth: .327/.394/.567, 20 HR, 72 RBI

Having a nice little Saturday: What is it with these Rockies? Every year, it seems like they make one of these late stretch runs, and Troy Tulowitzki catches fire. On July 27, they were 51-49, eight games out in the division. Then Tulowitzki came back from the disabled list and hit everything that moved. Now, they're 77-64, just 2.5 games back of the Padres and Giants and Tulowitzki is en fuego again, hitting two more homers last night.

The Padres' 10-game losing streak, of course, did a lot to breathe life into the Rockies' playoff chances, but if we've learned one thing over the last four years — since the 2007 miracle and the disappointing 2008 campaign when Tulo only played 101 games — this team goes as Tulowitzki goes.

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You're my boy, Blue!: Tulowitzki owns one of the most extreme first half/second half splits in baseball, with a .784 career OPS before the All-Star Break and a .925 career OPS after.

This year, despite missing 33 games due to a wrist injury — which often saps ordinary humans of their power — he's on another one of his routine second-half tears, nearly identical to his second-half performance last year. This year he's hitting .359 with a 1.090 OPS since the break; last year, he hit .344 with a 1.042 OPS after the break.

Overall, compared to last year, he has a much higher batting average and BABIP and many fewer homers, but his overall OPS is almost exactly the same. The Rockies dodged a bullet with his wrist injury, because his power production seems to have been unaffected by the DL stint. It was his third DL trip in the last three years, though. So as much as they want to ride him into the playoffs, for his future sake, they may want to remember to give him a day or two off.

Think KFC will still be open?: Carlos Gonzalez(notes) may be the MVP of the team (and arguably the National League), but Tulowitzki is Colorado's heart and soul (and arguably still its best player, thanks to his stellar D at shortstop). As he goes, so goes the team. He may not be exactly fragile, but his health is paramount to the team's future. As long as he's healthy, he'll hit — and the Rockies will win.

What other players are currently streaking?

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Logan Morrison(notes), Florida Marlins .314/.425/.487, 1 HR, 13 RBI
Ho-hum, yet another ballyhooed Florida rookie living up to his promise, along with Gaby Sanchez(notes) and Mike Stanton(notes). And it's just another year for one of the most productive farm systems of the decade. (Imagine how many games they'd win if not for the fact that the team has simply pocketed profits rather than invest it in players on the field.)

Morrison gets extra credit for doing his hitting while playing out of position, having come up through the system as a first baseman, then being converted to outfield this season because of Sanchez's success as the Marlins' everyday 1B. He came up too late — just a month and a half ago — for Rookie of the Year consideration, but he's been incredibly impressive at the plate. In 40 games, he has 29 walks against 33 strikeouts. A BB/K ratio that close to 1.0 from a young hitter is a virtual guarantee of continued success. Morrison has arrived.

Felix Hernandez(notes), Seattle Mariners 11-10, 2.30 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.48 K/BB
The 2010 Cy Young race is already being wrapped up by the smarter baseball writers, who are morose in their certainty that whoever wins the award in the AL, it won't be Felix, the best pitcher in the league.

To quote Tim Marchman:

"The most interesting thing about the Cy Young race is probably just how little credit Hernandez is getting for even running up a winning record while being supported by a lineup that may as well comprise two winos drinking Sterno strained through stale bread, a Mongolian who learned how to hit by playing Bases Loaded, Alan Partridge, and five cardboard cutouts of Ski Melillo."
In his past six starts, King Felix has given up one earned run, and has an ERA of 0.20. Prior to that, he had a losing record. He's leading the league in ERA and innings pitched. What more can you say about the guy? He's the best pitcher in the world. He plays for the worst-hitting team in baseball. You have to feel for the guy.

Clay Buchholz(notes), Boston Red Sox 15-7, 2.53 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 1.73 K/BB
Buchholz is having the best year of his life and has been the best pitcher on the Red Sox, finally putting together the promise that made the Sox want to hold onto him rather than trade him for Johan Santana(notes). He's getting lucky — that .269 BABIP is unsustainable, and that 1.73 K/BB is worrisome — but it's hard to get too sour about a 2.53 ERA. He isn't this good, but he's good, possessing the seventh-fastest average fastball in baseball (94 mph), and he finally looks like he's arrived. (A few of his problems with location and control were on display last night against Oakland, the worst start of his career, in which he gave up five runs and couldn't make it out of the second inning.) His ERA will be at least a full run higher next year, but he'll still be one of the better young pitchers in the league. With fellow top prospect Justin Masterson(notes) still struggling to break through in Cleveland, it looks like the Sox held on to the right young gun.

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