The offensive upgrade from Jose Reyes to Troy Tulowitzki is undeniable and hardly worth discussing. In shorthand, Tulo is hitting .300/.348/.471 (in a down year), while Reyes is hitting .285/.322/.385. Tulowitzki is two years younger (30 vs. 32) and will likely never make the $22 million that Reyes is owed next year.1 The Rockies gave up a star, took on a high salary, declining player and got three pitchers2 with varying levels of upside.
All of that is interesting, but not as interesting to me as this bit of trade logic.
blue jays were said to have been concerned with reyes' defense. they view tulo as an upgrade with glove, as well. #tulo
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 28, 2015
At 6’3″ and 215 lbs, most people wouldn’t assume that Tulo would be an upgrade on the 6’0″, 195 lbs Dominican. Well most people would be wrong and must be forgetting that Tulo won the Gold Glove – an “honor” that is often misguided – in 2010 and 2011.
Let’s look at the numbers, though they can sometimes be dubious.
Tulowitzki has had a consistently higher than normal range factor/9. This stat attempts to show that a player covers a lot of ground based on the amount of putouts and assists they get; the logic being that the more you get, the more you’ve had the ability to reach. Tulo sits at 4.57 this season and a career 4.97 – the league is at 4.38 during his career – whereas Reyes is at 3.97 this year and 4.02 for his career. That’s 15th to 35th in the league for qualifying shortstops for those counting at home. Tulo cleared the fat part of the bell curve and Reyes didn’t.
Similarly, in defensive runs saved, Tulowitzki is currently sitting at -2, but that is the only time he has been negative for a season since his 47 game season in 2012 and his rookie year. In essence, Tulo is an average defensive shortstop according to the stats, but that is an upgrade on the constant negative in defensive runs saved for Reyes, sitting at a projected -18 for the year, not too abnormal.
Fangraphs’ UZR and its related stats tell a similar tale, with Tulo having a slightly below average year from the field, but still a better year than many of Reyes’s, especially recently. Tulo seems to have the range and the safe glove to avoid errors while Reyes is a little riskier and generally less effective.
It’s interesting to note that Tulowitzki is such an obvious upgrade over any short stop in baseball offensively, that he is also an upgrade over many defensively. The infield that Toronto is trotting it should very much scare teams at the plate, but might be just as terrifying defensively.