— layers in all of baseball. Tulo’s .347 batting average ranks third in MLB, and his 16 homeruns are third, behind only Domonic Brown and teammate Carlos Gonzalez in the National League home run race. What really makes Tulo special though is that he’s one of the best defensive players in the game as well, winning the 2010 and 2011 NL Gold Glove at shortstop.
No other shortstop in baseball has accumulated a higher WAR since 2008 than Tulowitzki’s 22.9, despite the fact that his 624 games played in that time span ranks 18th. However, his biggest weakness as a player — his inability to stay healthy — has come back to haunt Tulowitzki once again.
A broken rib is a flukey injury that could occur to anyone diving for a ball, as was shown on Thursday. Unfortunately, healing the injury is much trickier than sustaining it. The motions involved with swinging a bat or throwing a baseball require a great deal of torque on the midsection, which will make it difficult for Tulo to do anything until the rib is completely healed.
This means that in all likelihood, Tulowitzki will be heading to the 15-day disabled list and Josh Rutledge will be summoned from Triple-A Colorado Springs to play shortstop. Rutledge was surprisingly good in his rookie season in 2012, but he struggled at the start of the 2013 season, batting just .242 in 173 plate appearances before being sent down.
It would be asking far too much of Rutledge to ask him to replace the level of production, both offensively and defensively, that will be missing with Tulowitzki out. Rutledge is an average defensive shortstop at best, and is unlikely to produce a batting average much higher than about .275. He has, however, shown the ability to drive a mistake pitch a long way, with 13 home runs in less than 500 big league at bats. Rutledge is no all-star, but he should be able to do a capable job of holding down the fort until Tulowitzki can return.
For now, the Rockies need to hope that the injuries sustained earlier today by Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler are not major. Gonzalez has already said he doesn’t expect to miss any significant time, which will be crucial for Colorado as they try to catch the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are in first place, 2.5 games ahead of the Rockies. The team will need Gonzalez’s offense now more than ever.