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Tuesday, September 21, 2010
1st Pitch: Tulowitzki or the Dodgers lineup?

By Jeremy Lundblad

TULOWITZKIAs the NL West race heads to the homestretch, the San Francisco Giants face the suddenly hot Chicago Cubs, while the other two contenders draw a pair of moribund division opponents. The Colorado Rockies, powered by Troy Tulowitzki’s historic month, draw the Arizona Diamondbacks, losers of 12 of their last 15. Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres face the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are having a historically bad month offensively.

So here’s the question: This month, would you rather have Troy Tulowitzki or the entire Dodgers lineup?

Consider the facts (via STATS LLC unless otherwise noted):

• Tulowitzki’s 14 home runs this month are more than seven teams, including the Dodgers (12). Over the last 50 years, there have only been three seasons of more September home runs than Tulowitzki has with 10 games to go: Albert Belle (17 in 1995) and Mark McGwire (15 in 1997 and 1998). Babe Ruth shares the September record with Belle.
• According to Elias, Tulowitzki is only the third player in MLB history to hit 14 HR in 15 games, joining Belle (1995) and Barry Bonds (2001). For the Dodgers, Andre Ethier has 14 home runs in his last 102 games, while it’s 103 games for Matt Kemp.
• Ruth holds the September RBI record with 43, while Johnny Mize and Hank Leiber share the NL mark with 36, according to the Denver Post. With 34, Tulowitzki is already tied for the fourth most in the last 50 years. Don Mattingly’s 37 in 1985 are the most in that span. Since the All-Star break, the Dodgers’ RBI leader is Matt Kemp with 26.
• The Dodgers are hitting just .204 in September. That’s on pace to be the third worst September batting average over the last 50 years. In 1964, the Mets hit .200 in September and lost 21 of 28 games. Even worse were the 1972 Rangers. They hit .183 and went 3-23 for the month in Ted Williams’ last season as a manager.
• The Dodgers are averaging just 2.71 runs per game (which is actually better than what the Mariners are doing at 2.53). Over the last 50 years, the only September that the Dodgers scored at a lower rate came in 1967 (2.57). The last NL team to finish September scoring at a lower rate were the 1998 Pirates (2.70). Before them you’d have to go back to the Year of the Pitcher, 1968, when both the Mets and Astros scored less often.

Via the BaseballMusings.com’s database, this stat is worth sitting down for: In the third inning this month, Tulowitzki is 8-for-8 with 11 RBI. Of those eight hits, seven have gone for extra bases: three doubles, one triple, three HR. His eight hits in the third are more than the entire Dodgers team (7-for-54). In 17 games, Los Angeles has yet to score a run in the third inning.

In fact, only three NL teams have more RBI in the third inning than Tulowitzki, the Marlins with 16, and the Reds and Cubs with 13 apiece. Amazingly, even when you take out his 11 RBI, the Rockies still have 11 in the third this month.