Posted: 2:40 pm Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Braves welcome MLB hitting leader Tulo and Rockies 

By David O'Brien

Aftering taking three of four from the Central-leading Brewers, the Braves welcome to town the Rockies and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who leads the majors by wide margins in batting average (.380), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.733), and also leads the National League with 13 home runs.

Colorado is 26-21 and three games behind West leader San Francisco, but the Rockies are nine games over .500 at home (16-7) and four games under on the road (10-14). And there is no bigger reason for that disparity than Tulowitzki.

Troy Tulowitzki comes to town as the major league leader in average, OBP and slugging percentage.

Troy Tulowitzki comes to town as the major league leader in average, OBP and slugging percentage.

His .380 average is the major league leader by more than 40 points, with San Diego’s Seth Smith (.338) next in the NL and the Detroit duo of Victor Martinez (.327) and hitting savant Miguel Cabrera (.326) leading the American League.

But here’s the rub: Tulowitzki is hitting an absurd .521 (38-for-73) with a .600 OBP and .959 slugging percentage in 21 games at Coors Field. I mean, seriously. Meanwhile, in 24 road games he’s hit .247/.375/.519 slash line that’s still strong, but pales next to the home stats. We only just passed the quarter pole of the season and I’m sure it’ll even out quite a bit, but for now, this is the mother of all disparities.

Tulo’s 1.559 OPS at home is absolutely Bonds-ian, a full 302 points higher than the Braves’ Justin Upton (1.257), who has been a beast in home games and ranks third in the majors in home OPS, just behind Smith (1.275).

Meanwhile, Tulo’s .894 road OPS doesn’t crack the top 30 among major leaguers with at least 50 road plate appearances, and his .247 road average is tied with Seattle’s Mike Zunino for 134th in the majors among those with at least 50 road PAs.

The numbers have raised some eyebrows, particularly among division opponents in the NL West.  This week Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow said on a San Francisco radio talk show that it was “as if” Tulowitzki is stealing signs at Coors Field. And that started a frenzy among the local media in Denver.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss was dismissive of the suggesstion and joked: “We’ve got a light bulb on the scoreboard we flash. Keep an eye on Dinger (Rockies mascot); he’s involved. We switch out the balls. We’ve got the umpires in on it.

“I love it when other teams talk about that. I think it just feeds the beast.”

Rockies teammate Carlos Gonzalez kidded that he was jealous: “I’m going to talk to him. I want the same guy to tell me what pitch is coming.”

As a team, the Rockies are hitting a majors-leading .344 with 38 homers and a .560 slugging percentage in 837 at-bats in home games, and .251 with 25 homers and a .411 slugging percentage in 824 at-bats on the road.

There’s probably only one way for Tulo to quiet some skeptics, and that’s to produce numbers that are at least a little closer to something we’re used to in the way of home/road split, rather than one that makes the memorably bloated home numbers from the Blake Street Bomber days at Coors seem mild by comparison.

To that end, the Rockies’ slugging shortstop has done just that of late: In his past 10 road games, Tulowitzki has hit .333 with four homers and eight RBIs.

By the way, there is only one current National League ballpark where Tulowitzki has never homered, and he’s only got a limited number of chances to do so before the team moves to its new ballpark in the ‘burbs in 2017. That’s right, Tulo has not homered at Turner Field. In fact, he hasn’t done much at all at the ballpark in downtown Atlanta.

Tulowitizki is 12-for-59 (.203) with no homers in 17 games at Turner Field, with a .258 OBP and .271 slugging percentage.

The same can’t be said of the Rockies’ Gonzalez, who has hit .387 (12-for-31) with two homers and seven RBIs in 10 games at Turner Field. Also worth noting: second-year Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is 4-for-13 with two homers in four games in Atlanta.

• Opposite trending: The Braves are 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA, .275 batting average, 26 runs and eight homers in their five games, after going 5-12 with a 4.04 ERA, .211 batting average, 40 runs and nine homers  in their previous 17 games.

Ryan Doumit, here executing a takeout slide in Thursday night's win, has contributed key pinch hits in three wins during the Braves' current 4-1 run.

Ryan Doumit, here executing a takeout slide in Thursday night’s win, has contributed key pinch hits in three wins during the Braves’ current 4-1 run.

Meanwhile, the Rockies are 4-7 with a 4.10 ERA, .263 BA and 42 runs in their past 11 games, after scorching in their previous 20 games with a 15-5 record, 3.64 ERA, .319 BA, 136 runs and 35 homers. Yes, .319 with 136 runs and 35 homers in a 20-game stretch through May 6.

The series between these teams has been quite one-sided lately, with the Braves going 12-2 against the Rockies since the beginning of the 2012 season. The Braves hit .309 and posted a 3.08 ERA in those games while out-homering the Rockies 20-11 and outscoring them 96-50.

Colorado had a 6.19 ERA in those 14 games. Last time the teams met, the Braves swept four from the Rockies July 29-Aug. 1 in Atlanta.

• Freeman wrecks Rockies: As much as Freddie Freeman has developed a rep as the heir apparent to Chipper when it comes to killing the Mets, the big Braves first baseman has done a whole different level of damage against the Rockies, albeit in far fewer opportunities.

Freddie Free kills them, home and away.

He has a .365 career average (31-for-85) with 17 extra-base hits, 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in 22 games against the Rockies, with a .455 OBP and .812 slugging percentage.

That’s nearly twice as many homers as he’s hit against the Phillies (five) in barely one-third as many games and fewer than half as many at-bats. Among NL East opponents, Freeman has five homers in 62 games (217 at-bats) against Philly, seven homers in 60 games (214 at-bats) against the Nationals, and six homers in 62 games (214 at-bats) against the Marlins.

He has a personal-best 13 homers in 59 games (222 at-bats) against the Mets, the only other team besides the Rockies that Freeman has double-digit homers against.

And it’s not as if it’s been a Coors Field effect — Freeman actually has more homers (six) against the Rockies in 12 games at Turner Field than he has at Coors (four in 10 games). In fact, his six homers in just his home games against the Rockies is more homers than Freeman has overall – home and away — against all other teams except three NL East opponents.

Freeman went 8-for-12 with two homers and six RBIs in his last three games against the Rockies during the Braves’ four-game sweep in Atlanta last summer, including a 4-for-4 game and a two-homer game, the second multi-homer game of his career against the Rockies.

• Laird, too? You know Freeman has raked against the Rockies, but Gerald Laird? Yes, the veteran backup catcher is 12-for-25 (.480) with four doubles and five RBIs in eight games against the Rockies, including multi-hit games in all but one of the six games in which he’s had more than one plate appearance against them.

Only two of those five multi-hit games came at Coors Field. Laird had a pair of 3-for-4 games against the Rockies in Detroit in 2009 and 2012.

Braves Friday lineup

  1. Heyward RF
  2. BUpton CF
  3. Freeman 1B
  4. JUpton LF
  5. Johnson 3B
  6. Simmons SS
  7. Uggla 2B
  8. Laird C
  9. Floyd P

 

  • Etc.

Tulowitzki leads the world in just about everything in the way of home stats, but Justin Upton’s nine homers in home games is the major league leader. Tulo has eight…. Speaking of J-Up, he’s got a nine-game hitting streak vs. Rockies in which he has sizzled at 17-for-37 (.459) with three doubles, four homers and nine RBIs, including a two-homer game Aug. 1 in Atlanta….. Against tonight’s Braves starter Gavin Floyd, Michael Cuddyer is 12-for-36, Justin Morneau is 7-for-33 (.212) with three homers, and Carlos Gonzalez is 3-for-7. No other current Rockies player has more than three at-bats against him…. Floyd will face righty Jordan Lyles, who was 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in eight starts before giving up five runs on six hits and six walks in 3-1/3 innings of a loss to San Diego in his last start Saturday. Justin Upton is 4-for-6 against Lyles and Dan Uggla is 2-for-3. No other Brave has more than one hit or three at-bats against him.

• It’s Memorial Day weekend in America. If you’re traveling, drive safely and be careful this weekend, folks. And click here for the great James McMurtry doing one of my favorite “holiday songs,” as it were. Enjoy.

“MEMORIAL DAY” by James McMurtry

Mama keeps tryin’ to get the game on the radio, daddy’s gotta know the score
There’s a big yellow thing on a flat bed trailer
Wonder what that thing’s for

We got towels rolled up in the back seat window
Keeping us out of the sun

Just a hundred more miles and we’ll be at grandma’s
Sure is gonna be fun

Maybe she’ll take us fishin’
Maybe she’ll bake us a pie

Remember like she did that one time
Back before grandpa died

It’s Memorial Day in America
Everybody’s on the road
Let’s remember our fallen heroes
Y’all be sure and drive slow

Ninety eight degrees in the shade of the tool shed
Can’t go back in the house
They’re all in the kitchen yellin’ ‘bout something

James McMurtry

James McMurtry

Don’t know what it’s about
Joey ‘n Mary said not to worry
Said it’s just the same old fight
Happens whenever they all get together
Everything’s really alright

It’s Memorial Day in America
This is how it’s supposed to be
Let’s remember our fallen heroesIn the land of the free

Daddy’s in the big chair sippin’ on a cold beer
Grandma’s cuttin’ a switch
She overheard Mary cussin’ her brother
Called him a son of a bitch
She got a good green limb off a sweet gum sapling
Man that’s bound to sting

But Mary don’t cry just stands there and takes it
Doesn’t seem to feel a thing
No Mary don’t cry, you know she’s a big girl
Wonder what made her so mad
She takes those licks looking in through the den door
Staring right straight at her dad

There’s a big yellow thing on a flat bed trailer
Daddy nearly hit that bird
They’re both in the front seat
Starin’ right straight ahead
Neither one saying a word
The sun’s going down in the rear view mirror
Gonna be driving all night
Wonder if the neighbor’s fed the canary
Wonder if the cat’s alright

1999 comments
Old_Man
Old_Man

Pastor's fielding woes, small sample size, is beginning to percolate into his stats.

His B-R DRS per year number at 2B is -20, which is Uggla-esque.  Pena is a +33, which is Simmons-esque, but certainly a function of small sample size.  Danny is a +4.

F-G's UZR/150 has Danny at  -0.3, Pastor at -3.3, and Pena at +1.6.

So the pattern seems to be that Pastor has been bad, Uggla is average (having a good year for him) and Pena is good.



CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

Sometimes, one just has to delete a couple of stinkers, especially if "one" is me.

CaptainMudd
CaptainMudd

Always feel that threat when 'Big Poppi' comes to bat.....and who was in the middle of yesterdays fray, yep the big guy keeping things under control in Tampa Bay.  It is hard to know what causes everyone to slump; no hitting to speak of the last ten games?  The Red Sox will be hungry for a win that's for sure...but that heat at Turner Field today just may drain that desire some--besides, I doubt we have anyone as goofy as Escobar and won't be stealing 3rd if we're five ahead...no need to feed the Boston frustration in any manner--just play ball.  Go Braves/ 

chipontheroadagain
chipontheroadagain

Jonny Gomes said What they need is for the Pitchers to start hitting ;-) 

DOB
DOB moderator

Red Sox have scored 26 runs and hit .212 during their current 10-game losing streak. 4.69 team ERA during the skid.

DOB
DOB moderator

Justin Upton has a .376 average, .459 OBP and .774 slugging percentage with 10 homers in 27 home games, and a .195/.267/.364 slash line with three homers in 20 road games.

VeniceJim
VeniceJim

We can be confident (barring rain) that either the Nats or Marlins will lose today...

DOB
DOB moderator

 Braves lineup: Heyward 9, BUpton 8, Freeman 3, JUpton 7, Johnson 5, Simmons 6, Pena 4, Laird 2, Santana 1

noleee
noleee

big mystery to me is why Simmons has fallen off so much defensively this season. from totally blowing away everybody the first year anda half, to being in the middle of the pack more or less so far this season

Lemke_Knuckler
Lemke_Knuckler

Lately, I've had a feeling Justin is on his way to huge season, but then I went back to his stats from last year and was humbled a little...


Through 47 games, 2013:  .272/.387/.967, 8 doubles, 14 homers, 29 RBI

Through 47 games, 2014:  .294/.374/.963, 9 doubles, 13 homers, 30 RBI


MFin04
MFin04

Boston loses ten in a row and comes to play us...that has an eerie feeling about it...

noleee
noleee

Braves prolly  ain't gonna import a secong baseman, without  trying all their prospects first. still got several to go......

VeniceJim
VeniceJim

Speaking of Ken, I just saw that someone I am sure he was a fan of died - photographer Bunny Yeager...

VeniceJim
VeniceJim

Just repeating the message I got from KENHOTLANTA last night:

FYI, I am still in the North Georgia mountains with poor internet...I will be back home in the next few days. I get the Braves on radio up here. I bought the full MLB app and all of the Braves games are blacked out! They better give me a refund. Thanks.

chipontheroadagain
chipontheroadagain

Well Lew looks like I will miss Fenway  But looking for a miracle

JerseyGil
JerseyGil

@DOB  AGAIN NO OSO BLANCO.....NO BUENO FREDO...WEAK LINE UP

CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@noleee

Maybe it could be traced to the game he missed for "personal issues." Those same issues could be invading his mind on the field. He's a human being. 

DisgustedFan
DisgustedFan

@noleee 


Why is Simmons middle of the pack. 


He is still throwing well and making plays though I do see a little dropoff from one of the best yrs defensively ever. 


Getting used to a new second baseman might be a factor -- as limited as Uggla can be he does now how to play the position.  Uggla was actually quite good in the field in '12

MFin04
MFin04

He's a little more consistent this year. Last year everything was in April. This year more coming in May. Not to mention he was hitting second this year for a while.

frenzy_army
frenzy_army

@MFin04 yup. I was thinking the same thing. The Sox get hot starting today.....

noleee
noleee

@MFin04

they will finally catch fire and we will be cremated in the backdraft....

monty1
monty1

@chipontheroadagain  Uggla will be fine. Wherever he goes and whatever he does from here on out. No reason to pity him, he would laugh at you if you did, I believe. He made bank. He had a good run and carved himself a name as one of the best power hitting second  basemen of all time. Good team mate, made the All-Stars, always hustled, no reason to hold his head down. All good things where sports are concerned come to an end, almost always sooner than we'd like.

Old_Man
Old_Man

@ZAZ @Old_Man

As I said yesterday, he plays SS, he plays CF, he's a fast baserunner.  He's a base hit guy, not a slugger.

Those guys typically profile as players who have to have a decent glove to make it.  I'm beginning to see that I made an assumption here.

All the more reason to look down on the farm.


CobbBraveNightmare
CobbBraveNightmare

@CaptainMudd

They were actually non-fiction, but a too disgusting part of my day to reveal.

noleee
noleee

@JerseyGil @DOB

can't catch him every day. he has no experience at a long season of starting all the time

Old_Man
Old_Man

@DisgustedFan @noleee

In 2008, Uggla was bad with the glove.

In 2009, he was bad.

In 2010, he was bad.

In 2011, he was bad.

In 2012, he was average.

In 2013, he was horrid.

So far this year, he has been average again.

noleee
noleee

@DisgustedFan @noleee

he is middle of the pack statistically , a facet he totally dominated the first year anda half

noleee
noleee

@MFin04

only thing hitting second might effect would be a ribbie or two prolly

ZAZ
ZAZ

@monty1 What will he do with all those never-used pianos? If he floods the supply market all at once prices will collapse over night.