Hot Start Could Mean MVP Season for Troy Tulowitzki

Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been one of baseball’s best second-half hitters over the past three seasons. A hot start could make him a shoe in for National League Most Valuable Player.

Tulowitzki has only had 25 at bats this spring, about as much as he’ll get in one week during the season, but he’s hitting .360 with a .967 OPS. He’s not exactly making room on his trophy case yet.

Here’s what Tulowitzki told the Associated Press after driving in his first run of spring on a solo home run yesterday:

“It’s different from when I was young and trying to make a team where you have to have some results. It really doesn’t matter if I’ve got no hits. I’m going to make the team. You don’t worry about it. I’ve had great springs and not very good seasons and I’ve had terrible springs and great season.”

It’s premature to get excited about Tulo’s spring, or just about any other player’s, but there are a lot of other reasons to get excited about the kind of year he could have in 2012. The only things that have held him back in season’s past were injuries and cold starts.

In five years as a Rockies regular, Tulowitzki has played more than 145 games just twice. Playing shortstop, one of the more demanding positions on the diamond, he’s at a higher injury risk than some other NL sluggers, but he’s coming into the season with a clean bill of health.

Two of the past three years, Tulowitzki’s OPS has been 200 points higher after the All-Star break. If you take his production after the All-Star break last year and stretch it over 155 games, you end up with a .356 average, 35 home runs, 130 RBI and 100 runs. Do the same thing from his 2010 second half and you get a .323 average with 46 home runs, 157 RBI and 108 runs.

If you don’t buy into the spring stats, which I guess you shouldn’t, maybe the fact that Tulowitzki’s entering the magical age 27 season where, so fantasy baseball legend goes, so many hitters breakout.

If Cactus League or birthdays don’t peak your interest, just look at what he did in 2011. In 143 games, Tulo had a career-high 105 RBI, hit 30 home runs for the second time in his career and hit .302 while being one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball.

He’s already been at an MVP level, but a strong start and healthy season would put Tulo over the top.

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