Blue Jays: Has Troy Tulowitzki regained his stroke?

TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki
TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki /

Hazel Mae of Sportsnet has given Blue Jays fans a reason for hope in the 2018 season—through a batting practice video. Troy Tulowitzki, in a video obtained by the great Hazel Mae, shows that he has reverted to a swing more fortuitous to his natural power.

Jonah Keri, with the help of hitting coach Ryan Parker, identified the fault in Tulowitzki’s 2017 swing and why it was so ineffective mid-way through last year. Keri showed that Tulowitzki’s longer swing had detrimental effects on his exit velocity and increased his ground-ball percentage.

Ryan Parker, in Jonah Keri’s article, described the change in Tulowitzki’s swing like this:

"“Looking at Tulo in 2016 vs. 2017, there are several small differences in his swing pattern. The general idea is that his moves got just a bit bigger, but his actual launch got slower. In 2016, Tulo used a small, double-tap-type stride. His bat starts at about a 45-degree angle. As his foot taps, his hands tip the barrel to a vertical position. In 2017, his bat starts flatter to the ground, he picks his foot up higher to begin that first tap, and his arms move the barrel to a vertical position during that tap. While the 2017 version has bigger moves, the actual launch is slower…”"

A gif from the article clearly shows this difference in swings.

However, through this video by Hazel Mae, there is hope for Blue Jays fans that Tulowitzki has regained the shorter stroke that he once had.

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As you can see, Tulo’s hands are held more parallel to his body, rather than parallel to the ground. The more that he lets his hands slip back and parallel to the ground, the longer his swing gets. By keeping his hands parallel to his body more, Tulo needs less time to get the bat head to the ball. By shortening the time needed for contact, he makes it easier to develop timing. As well, a shorter time allows more time to wait on the ball. With time to wait on the ball, Tulo has more time to recognize pitch type and location–leading to a better eye at the plate.

As he gets older, his timing and bat speed are undoubtedly going to decline. However, by shortening his swing, and getting back to the swing that he had in Colorado, there is a higher chance that he is successful.

For reference, when using the longer swing just described in 2017, Tulowitzki held a .678 OPS with seven home runs in 66 games. However, in 2016, when he employed the shorter swing that Keri describes, Tulo held a .761 OPS with 24 home runs in 131 games. While .761 is not amazing by any means, it is still better than the .697 OPS he held when he was first traded to Toronto in 2015.

Therefore, while this is just a batting practice video, and it in no way guarantees that Tulowitzki has changed his swing, there is hope for Blue Jays fans. A shorter swing could allow Tulo to regain timing and confidence. With timing and confidence, there is a greater chance Tulo may regain something close to the form he had before.

Next: Toronto Blue Jays 2018 Outfield Depth Chart

The ultimate test for this new-found old-swing will come in the first spring training game that Tulowitzki plays. As he is currently dealing with an injury, there is no guarantee that he will play in the team’s first game on Friday, February 23rd.