There were very high expectations on José Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki when they arrived to the Blue Jays. However, neither of the two reached those expectations. Who turned out to be better for the Blue Jays?
It is easy to say Troy Tulowitzki turned out to be better for the Blue Jays. As soon as he arrived to the organization, in the trade that made Jose Reyes’ Blue Jays tenure come to an end, the team got on a roll and ended up taking on the Yankees for 1st place in the AL East in that magic 2015 run. Of course, Tulowitzki played a big part in that run, but his numbers with the Blue Jays weren’t all that great. He also wasn’t durable and ended up playing just 258 games (including playoffs) in three and a half seasons with the Blue Jays.
José Reyes was another player who suffered a lot of injuries, but he actually played more games with the Blue Jays in less time with the organization. He took part in a total of 305 games after his arrival from the Marlins in the 2013 trade, until July of 2015 when he was sent to the Rockies in the Tulowitzki deal. Surprinsingly, Reyes was more durable than Tulowitzki.
Production wise Reyes and Tulowitzki are very different. One contributed with his speed and top of the order bat, while the latter was more of a slugger. Here are their total offensive stats in their respective Blue Jays tenure:
José Reyes Troy Tulowitzki
Batting average .289 .247
On base % .334 .312
OPS .738 .712
OPS+ 103 90
RBI’s 122 122
Tulowitzki’s worst seasons in terms of batting came in his time with the Jays. The 2016 season was, by far, his best season in a Blue Jays uniform and it was still an average performance that saw him with a slash line of .254/.318/.443. That led to a decent .761 OPS, along 24 home runs and 79 RBI’s. He also hit .462 in 13 postseason at bats. However, his numbers were still a far cry from his time in Colorado. Overall, his stats as a Blue Jay are bad. His .712 OPS, 90 OPS+ (league average is 100), in 987 plate appearances is not what the Blue Jays were looking for in their five time All-Star and two time Silver Slugger.
José Reyes was the kind of bat you wanted for the top of the order. He put up a fine batting average and on-base percentage during his time with the Blue Jays. On top of that he contributed with his good speed on the bases, something Tulowitzki did not do, and compiled a total of 61 stolen bases with the Jays. An OPS+ of 103 was more than fine and he was a good bat to have at the top of your order.
Tulowitzki has been, by far, a more productive hitter in his career. In fact, in his eight full seasons with the Rockies before joining the Blue Jays he hit for an OPS over .800 in all of the eight seasons, and he was arguably the best hitting shortstop in the majors. However, between injuries and a possible lack of adaptation, he simply did not perform with his bat.
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Here’s where things change. Reyes was a poor defender while Tulowitzki was an extraordinary one. In 2015, when Tulowitzki became part of the Blue Jays, it just seemed like everyone on the field was a better defender, something that was key for the team’s success in 2015 and 2016.
The two time Gold Glover had a total of 16 defensive runs saved in his time with the Blue Jays. Precisely, six, 10 and 0 in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively. All the opposite from Reyes who compiled a total of -29 defensive runs saved in his two seasons and a half with the Jays. Putting it in a simple way, Tulowitzki made the routine plays while Reyes made mistakes in some.
Rounding it up
Whether you prefer an offensive or defensive shortstop is up to taste. What’s clear is that, based on their statistics during their time in a Blue Jays uniform, Tulowitzki was a better defender than Jose Reyes, who unexpectedly, turned out to be better offensively.
When Tulowitzki arrived to Toronto on July 28th 2015, the Blue Jays were on a historic 22 year playoff drought, and yes, he wasn’t the only acquisition, but his instant impact on the team surely played a big part in that win streak that completely changed the season’s path. Numbers aside, his presence had a big effect on the team, and although Reyes did bring an energetic spirit to the team with his speed, something the Blue Jays have been missing since his departure, and way to play the game, Tulowitzki added some kind of presence very few players have.