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Just The Sports: 2010-09-05

Just The Sports

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Idol and the Idolater

Troy Tulowitzki has never made a secret about his extreme admiration for Derek Jeter. He plays shortstop like Jeter, wears the number 2 jersey in honor of Jeter, and his teammates teased him about his man-crush on Jeter to the point where Tulowitzki bought them all Jeter's Driven cologne as a joke. There is probably nothing about Jeter that Tulowitzki would not want to emulate so it stands to reason that he would also want to match Jeter's production on the field.

Through 530 career games, there is one hitting category in which Tulowitzki has already passed Derek Jeter, but in others he is still chasing his idol. It should come as no surprise that Tulowitzki has a higher slugging percentage than Jeter did in his first 530 career games (.484 to .456). There are a lot of things Jeter does well as a hitter, but hitting for power is not one of them. On the other hand, Tulowitzki has true power hitting capabilities.

When it comes to on-base percentage, Jeter has been statistically significantly better, posting an on-base percentage of .383. to Tulowitzki's .362. Since their walk percentages (percentage of plate appearances that end in a walk) are so similar (Tulowitzki .097;Jeter .091), the main difference between their on-base percentages comes on balls they put into play.

There, Jeter has a sizable advantage with a .364 BABIP to Tulowitzki's .322 BABIP. Jeter's advantage in batting average on balls in play is a direct result of the kind of hitter he is. Groundballs are more likely than fly balls to turn into hits so Jeter benefits from being an extreme groundball hitter while Tulowitzki is more likely to hit a fly ball.

Jeter also has a large advantage in wOBA (.390 to .372).

Once home splits are taken into consideration, Tulowitzki closes the gap, but that has more to do with his extremely hitter friendly home ballpark, Coors Field, than anything else. There, Tulowitzki has hit .309/.382/.523 with a wOBA of .393; Jeter hit .310/.381/.449 with a wOBA of .385. In their respective home ballparks, Tulowitzki's power advantage becomes even more evident.

However, on the road, Jeter re-establishes himself as a better hitter through their first 530 games for the same reasons as in the overall comparison. Jeter has a higher batting average (.318 to 274), on-base percentage (.384 to .346), batting average on balls in play (.373 to .309), and wOBA (.395 to .353). Jeter also has a slightly better slugging percentage (.463 to .449), but that is because of his higher batting average; Tulowitzki's isolated power is still greater (.175 to .145).

As it stands now, Tulowitzki is not as good a hitter as Jeter was to start his career, mainly because of the inability for him to hit as well on the road. Jeter had no such problem and to equal his idol, Tulowitzki will need to come up with a solution for his road hitting woes.

Even though he might be slightly behind Jeter in the hitting department, Troy Tulowitzki can always be proud himself for being a much better fielder. Tulowitzki is a pretty good and above-average defensive shortstop according to ultimate zone rating (UZR) while Jeter is one of the worst defensive shortshops in the majors.

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