Throwdown: Braves' Escobar vs Rockies' Tulowitzki

As part of a game thread discussion last night, I boldly proclaimed that I would prefer Yunel Escobar to Troy Tulowitzki, however slightly. This proclamation was met with a mixture of befuddlement and old-style double-takes, so I of course felt the need to defend my position in more detail. What follows is a brief comparison of the two players, using only their road stats (since it is impossible to compare the home stats of a Rockie with another player).

(I would like to apologize in advance to any Rockies fans whose heads a-splode at the mere intimation that Escobar could even be compared to their beloved Tulo. Please clean up your head bits and try to soldier through. You'll get a chance to speak your decimated mind in the poll.)

First, let me just say that yes, I do believe that Tulo was better last year. However, the difference was not nearly as great as you might think, and if you look at their whole careers, the picture changes completely. Here are their road numbers in a variety of rate stats over the last 3 seasons (2007-2009):

Name AVG OBP SLG OPS BB% K% wOBA wRC+
Tulowitzki .266 .338 .440 .778 9.5% 21.2% .336   96.4
Escobar .288 .366 .422 .788 9.8% 11.1% .347 112.7

Tulo has a clear edge in power, but his average and on-base are much lower than Escobar's. Their walk rates are identical, but Escobar strikes out almost half as often. Escobar has the edge in road wOBA and road wRC+, too.

None of this considers that there is likely an "anti-Coors" effect that causes Colorado players to underperform on the road due to the adjustment of not playing at altitude. Feel free to give Tulowitzki some credit in that regard; I don't know how much credit, but it shouldn't be a large amount.

Defensively, both Plus/Minus and UZR loved Tulowitzki in 2007 (+30 and +15 runs, respectively), but they've rated him as much closer to average the past two years (+2 and 0 in 2008, +9 and -1 in 2009). Escobar has consistently been rated as an exactly average fielder by UZR (career UZR: 0). Plus/Minus has loved Esco the past 2 years, though, rating him as +12 and +13 runs. Overall, you could go either way on defense, depending on which numbers you believe.

Alright, you've seen the stats. Now take the poll. All I ask is that the Braves fans not just vote for Esco because he's a Brave. Thanks. Now let the throwdown begin!

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