Tulowitzki shining on both sides of the ball

Tulowitzki shining on both sides of the ball

DENVER -- Silver or gold? Either would be fine, but Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is flattered that anyone would even ask his preference.

Tulowitzki has a chance to become the first shortstop since the Pirates' Jay Bell in 1993 to lead National League players at his position in fielding percentage and slugging percentage in the same season. Two awards -- the Rawlings Gold Glove and the Louisville Silver Slugger -- could end up in his hands.

Let's say he earns both. Which would be more meaningful?

"Gold Glove," Tulowitzki answered without hesitation. "You all know how much pride I take in my defense. I've said before I'd rather make a game-saving play than hit a home run, and I say that in all honesty."

Tulowitzki entered Saturday's game against the D-backs second among NL players in hitting with a .327 batting average -- behind teammate Carlos Gonzalez's .335 mark. Tulowitzki's .567 slugging percentage led shortstops with enough plate appearances to qualify for the NL batting title, and his .985 fielding percentage was two points higher than that of the D-backs' Stephen Drew.

Of course, it doesn't matter where Tulowitzki plays defense; he'd be among the league leaders at his position. But Tulowitzki cares deeply that he does it at shortstop. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Tulowitzki has faced doubts that someone his size can play the position long term. Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter, his two favorite players, were exceptions, and Tulowitzki would like to join them in that category.

"I have to keep the pride to enable myself to play that position, because I'm so big," Tulowitzki said. "I'm always striving to get better."

Tulowitzki, in his fourth full season, appreciates what earning either or both awards would mean.

"Anytime you're being asked a question about winning one of those, you should feel honored," Tulowitzki said. "But both of those? Wow."

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said the numbers could be even more remarkable had Tulowitzki not missed 33 games this season with a fractured left wrist.

Tulowitzki has 20 home runs -- eight in the team's last eight games, after a long period without power because the wrist had not healed -- and 72 RBIs in 102 games.

"Maybe some of the 33 we give him a blow, because some of that came toward the middle part of the summer, so let's say he plays 30 of those and gets three days off," Tracy said. "An extra 30 games and 120, 130, 140 trips to the plate -- what do the numbers look like then?

"He's a special player, an institutional player, a foundational player that you build an organization around. I said to him yesterday after he took his first round [of batting practice] after I stood behind the screen at first base and watched him hit, 'You like this time of year, don't you?' I got this little snicker in the corner of his mouth. Enough said."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.