Troy Tulowitzki's 2012 season has gotten off to a particularly rocky start. When the Colorado Rockies were preparing for 2012, I expected the season to be filled with a lot of ups and downs. With several new players and the unknown potential of a vastly different pitching staff from last season, there were few certainties on the team.
One of those certainties was the fielding of All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Since becoming a regular starter for the Rockies in 2007, Tulowitzki has been one of the best fielding shortstops in the major leagues. In 2011, he led all MLB shortstops with a .991 fielding percentage. In 684 fielding chances, he had only six errors.
In the first 11 games of the 2012 season, Tulowitzki has already committed six errors. Six errors in 63 chances. Right now Tulowitzki is the 30th-ranked fielding shortstop in Major League Baseball. He's made crazy throwing errors on routine plays as well as missing ground balls that he routinely handles 99.9% of the time.
I'm not worried about his hitting. Yes, his batting average is only .244. However, I would not be surprised if his fielding issues are carrying over to the plate. Something is not right in Tulo's head. Baseball is a game in which the brain should be left on the bench or at home. Tulo has been playing the game since he was old enough to hold a baseball in his hand. His instincts are good. Right now his brain is not.
Some evidence of this is how he's already helped to turn 11 double plays in 11 games. Double plays are all about quick decisions in which the brain is largely removed from the equation. Tulowitzki doesn't have a problem with these plays. A quick ground ball in which he has a full second before he has to release the throw to first base allows too much time for his brain to get involved. Hence, throwing errors. He admitted on Tuesday night that his early game throwing error was still in his head when he made a potentially critical fielding error later in the game on a simple ground ball.
So what's wrong with his brain? I look back on spring training and wonder if Tulowitzki's mind was right coming into the season. Rather than getting in his last quality at-bats and time in the field in those last days leading up to opening day, Tulo was dealing with an injury stemming from a beaning in his non-throwing arm by former Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez on April 1. Thankfully he wasn't hurt bad. He just had some soreness that he intended to be over by the time the season started.
Look at it this way: players have routines. They can be very superstitious about how they go about their preparation (especially leading into a new season), and any deviation in that can mess with their heads. I know Tulowitzki likes to play as much as he can. Leaders and great players are like that. However, having him possibly rush back into the starting lineup for opening day may have been a mistake. Giving him a chance to get back into his regular workout routine and be fully healed before he had to deal with the regular season may have been a better option.
With that being said, Tulowitzki will pull himself out of this. It's not the yips. He's just thinking a little too much. Giving him the night off last night against the San Diego Padres was good. He needs to relax and get back to being confident in his abilities. With the Rockies having the day off today as well, Tulowitzki gets a nice mini-vacation that he should have taken a few weeks ago. I fully expect him to settle in and play like the All-Star he is for the rest of the season starting Friday.
Julie has followed baseball her entire life. Growing up in a Los Angeles Dodgers family and living in Atlanta Braves territory, she quickly became a Colorado Rockies fan once she moved to Denver in 2001. Her goal this year is to watch 100 Rockies games (count is at nine) in 2012.
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