Thumbs up or thumbs down for K-Tuck?

One of the most unusual things on display around this blog has been the very split judgments on the future of young prospect Kyle Tucker. Some folks are high on him and some folks do not hold high expectations for him at all. This is not taking a shot at anyone questioning whether he will become a solid major leaguer or a flop. It is just an observation that shows folks are more divided on him than most of the youngsters that have come to town lately.

Why is that?

There are two obvious reasons why there may be some negative thoughts here. First, there is the knowledge that the club has been adamant about not trading Tucker or another top prospect Forrest Whitley. It is easy to picture that the Astros might have been able to reel in some top-notch talent (can you say Christian Yelich?) if Tucker could have been packaged with another prospect or two.

Second, after so much hype about the young man, the first view most fans had of him was a disastrous call-up in 2018, where his slash line was a miserable .141 BA/ .236 OBP/ .439 OPS with no HRs and 4 RBIs in 64 ABs.  He looked lost at the plate and not like the top 10 (in the majors) prospect that he was considered.

Beyond that his numbers in the minors were not that amazing as he compiled a solid, but not eye-opening slash of .283 BA/ .356OBP/ .863 OPS. His long looping swing looked like it might have too many holes in it. And perhaps for some, the failure of his brother Preston to be a solid major leaguer with the Astros lingered in the backs of their minds.

But are there reasons to be optimistic? Sure…

  • Kyle joined the minor league system as an 18-year-old. The numbers he put up in the minors were as a player who was between 2 and 5 years younger than the average players at each level at which he played.
  • His second shot at the majors in 2019 was so much better than his first exposure to the Bigs. His slash this time around was .269 BA/ .319 OBP/ .857 OPS. In only 67 ABs he scored 15 runs, hit 4 HRs, knocked in 11 runs, stole 5 bases and put up 0.8 WAR. On a small sample, this could be projected out to a 30/30 season.
  • Additionally, he was only 22 years old when he put up these numbers in 2019. At a similar age, George Springer was still at AA (though perhaps he should not have been). Alex Bregman at 22 y.o. in his rookie season put up a similar slash of .264/.313/.791. And Jose Altuve at 22 y.o. in his second season had a slash of .290/.340/.740.
  • Even in his first call-up a couple numbers in his favor standout. He struck out only 18% of the time, which is a decent number. Also, he had a .176 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) which means he was not very lucky in his first time in the majors. Interestingly, he struck out at a 27% rate in his second time around, but showed a lot more power and hit a lot more line drives.

Bottom line – this COVID mess has prevented us all from seeing more of this young man whose performance will be critical to a team with 3 outfielders possibly leaving after 2020.

Your turn – what do you expect from young Kyle Tucker, if and when he gets another shot with your favorite team?

25 comments on “Thumbs up or thumbs down for K-Tuck?

  1. This next season will be Tuckers to sink or swim. I believe that his floor will be at least average. We all have hopes that he will be far above that and will find out only with regular playing time. He is more talented and a different body type than his brother Preston. He has a low and controlled salary and just possibly could become part of our core.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds reasonable to me. I am personally excited to see what he can do. I think his floor is “good” and could see him beat that.

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  2. I think K-Tuck will be a good player. The fact that he improved his numbers from 2018 to 2019 shows me he was able to make some adjustments.

    Also, with our loaded lineup, he will likely bat near the bottom of the order and I don’t expect him to feel much pressure to produce.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to give him a thumbs up. If you are the Astros front office, you have to give the guy one of the three open jobs for 2021. He absolutely rocked in AAA last year and then came up and did a good job in the majors.

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  4. I don’t know. How’s that for a definitive response? But I think you’ve got to give the guy an everyday shot to build on what he did briefly in 2019, whether it be in 2020 or 2021.

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  5. So the league wants there to be a 60 game season. The players want a 70 game season. Gee……how about a 65 game season.
    Manfred comes across oddly. He makes Bud Selig look competent. He says they came to an agreement on a framework, but Tony Clark (players union rep) says they did not come to an agreement on games.
    For some reason the league does not want double headers. Thinks it is too much exposure for the players??? I mean it is not like they are going to race out between games and get exposed and then come back and infect everybody.
    This is just a bizarre situation from start to finish….

    Liked by 1 person

    • They did mention something I didn’t – which was that since Alvarez showed up as a fully developed Babe Ruth Jr – there might be a bit more disappointment from Astro fans on Tucker’s slower start to his career

      Loved watching the video of his 4 HRs last year – a lot of power for a guy who looks like he weighs less than one of my legs

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have no idea how TV rights go – I wonder if they get paid less for a doubleheader (thinking that less folks will watch two games in a day)
      But yes there are a lot of logistic reasons why doubleheaders would work especially if they have like 30 man rosters

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      • Dan, the TV consideration might be an issue. Would a day-night doubleheader be of lesser impact?

        But I think 1OP is right. Time to put a fork in it. The Jays have shut down their facility too.

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      • It makes one wonder daveb – what was baseball’s plan for when players became infected? Quarantined for a couple weeks? And test everybody around them immediately? And was there a number infected on any one team beyond which they would give it up?
        I presume Manfred will continue his meandering leadership with some other half a$$ statement after the owners tell him what to say.

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    • i watched that video of the 4 homers. his swing kinda reminds me of a golf swing in a way. long swing. dan have you checked out el camino yet? its a good diversion for 2 1/2 hrs or so especially for those breaking bad, better call saul fans.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, rj – definitely on our watch list, but we have lost some time here with my father-in-law in the hospital. Now that he is finally out we are catching up on household chores and will watch it soon.

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  6. I’m still thumbs up on Tucker. I was against trading for Yelich at the time (was that an actual possibility or speculation/rumor driven by our fan base?). Given a second chance I would definitely make the trade, but I don’t trust his statistics. They aren’t Aaron Judge or Todd Helton at Coors Field level suspicious, but his power numbers are significantly better at Miller Park. Back to Tucker, you could pencil him into the outfield right now and get better production than we saw from Reddick. You’d lose a lot of defensive value and his awareness on the bases has been questionable at this point, but there is no reason to believe he was receiving top notch instruction in the Luhnow system either. He reminds me a lot of Shawn Green despite having a longer swing. I think getting him a lot of at bats should be a priority this year (if they play) with the expectation he takes over for Brantley full time in 2021. It does bother me the Astros weren’t able to make Preston Tucker, AJ Reed, or Tyler White productive hitters at the MLB level. I really think Dusty Baker is a better fit in that department. Bringing it back to Yelich, I think the numbers Tucker will put up are far more in line with what I would have expected Yelich to peak at – 25-30HR with a strong OBP and even speed to steal 20+ bases. Given the Astros lineup, you could see Tucker drive in a lot of runs as well. His value, if given playing time, could actually increase significantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well it wasn’t just us Astro fans thinking about that trade back then…..
      https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/trade-value-christian-yelich.html
      I think you have a good point that a manager like Dusty Baker (a high quality outfielder in his time) could really help Tucker develop.
      At least on the bases Kyle seems to be a good base stealer – stealing 5 bases with no caught stealing last season. In general our team has not been great on the bases – I think it has been fueled by a perhaps over-aggressive team strategy. If your coach is waving you on…..
      I don’t see him ever being the defensive player that Reddick was – I don’t think that long lanky body has the quick twitch that Reddick had, but he does have good overall speed and length so I would suspect he could be at least as good as Brantley is.

      Like

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