First, let's start by saying Chipper Jones is an entertaining follow on Twitter. He watches a lot of baseball (mostly Braves games) and live tweets them often. Yesterday, he offered his assessment of Andrelton Simmons - the Braves' young shortstop.
Y'all are watching the best all around shortstop in the big leagues! Andrelton Simmons.This of course caused Troy Tulowitzki supporters to rise up. And by rise up, I mean they replied to Jones' tweet. As he often does, Jones acknowledged the influx of comments regarding Tulowitzki with a somewhat surprising response. Tulowitzki should move to third base.
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) May 7, 2013
Lots of Tulo fans tonite. No offense people. Tulo is a great player. If I was a GM I'd move him to third. Simba and Castro r true shortstops
— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) May 7, 2013
Tulowitzki has the power, but would a move to third base make sense? If you evaluate him simply based on his 2012 defense, the idea of moving Tulo from shortstop to third might make some sense. He ranked out below average as a shortstop last season, but we have to take into consideration his injuries.
In 2012 alone, Tulowitzki battled illness, a hip strain, groin soreness, a leg contusion, a groin strain, and eventually groin surgery. This season, he has seemed much healthier, but he did undergo an MRI on the groin yesterday after being held out of the Rockies matchup against the Yankees. He has some swelling around the abductor area that has caused some concern. The injuries have clearly limited what Tulowitzki can do on the field and at the plate, but there is no doubt he was one of the best players in the league before 2012.
Tulowitzki is a two-time All-Star with a career batting average hovering near .300. He hit 20 or more home runs four times in his previous seven seasons. He plays hard, is a great offensive player, and usually, he is a great defensive player. But as the injuries start to catch up with him, would a move to third base make sense?
Third basemen are not expected to be as nimble as shortstops. They do not necessarily need the same range. Many times in the past, a shortstop has been converted to a third baseman because it was a better fit, because of decreased defensive value at shortstop, or to make room for someone who was just simply better defensively. Chipper Jones, Cal Ripken Jr., and Alex Rodriguez are all examples of high-profile moves away from shortstop. Tulowitzki could be the next if Jones' assessment is correct.
Of course, his assessment is based on personal experience and playing the game. He is not in the GM's office pouring over player profiles and options for replacement if Tulowitzki was moved to third base. He is not considering the fact that Tulowitzki may not even want to consider a move to third. But the fact is, Jones may be right, but not for the reasons he thought he was right.
Tulowitzki is approaching that point where we may start calling him injury-prone. That can't happen to a shortstop. Once it does, usually the days of playing everyday shortstop are over. If Tulowitzki really is more prone to injuries after his rough 2012 season (he's suffered a shoulder injury this season as well), the Rockies may very well need to consider a change. They clearly do not want to trade Tulowitzki away as evidenced by the numerous rejections they've made to trade proposals. So, perhaps a change of position could be helpful.
Currently, the Rockies employ the services of Nolan Arenado at third base. He has played in eight games this season while splitting time with Jonathan Herrera and Reid Brignac. None of those players have the same ring as "Troy Tulowitzki at third." Of course, it's about more than how the name sounds at the position. It's about proaction.
Tulowitzki has the power to be a solid third baseman, but would a move from shortstop reduce his value? Third basemen are precious commodities in the league right now. Players like Chase Headley and Kevin Youkilis received a ton of attention last year because there weren't many other options (and of course because they could produce). If Tulowitzki moves to third base, would his offense be strong enough to justify the position? Probably.
When looking at the top third basemen in the league last season, it would be easy to see Tulowitzki fitting somewhere in the top five to seven immediately if he was moved to third base. Players like David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, and Chase Headley led the list last season. There's no reason to think Tulowitzki couldn't be a member of that club.
So if Tulowitzki's injuries keep up, Chipper Jones' assessment of Tulowitzki's place on the field may not be all that off base. He could slide over to third base and not miss a beat offensively while not be expected to do as much defensively.