In praise of Kyle Tucker

He has been on the Astros’ fans radar since before the draft of 2015.

Kyle Tucker was taken in that June 2015 draft at the tender age of 18 and the Astro fans have been watching him with our peripheral vision as he has climbed the minor leagues. He had some of his best early work at hitter-friendly Lancaster, but by 2018 and 2019 he was putting up some strong numbers at AAA (.332 BA/.989 OPS in 2018 / 34 HRs and 30 SBs in 2019).

Tucker’s strong showings in 2018 and 2019 earned him a couple short call-ups that resulted in very different results. 2018 was a big water sandwich as he hit a miserable .141 BA/ .439 OPS in 72 plate appearances.  He looked completely overmatched. In the same amount of plate appearances in 2019, he looked promising as he hit a much improved .269 BA/ .857 OPS with 4 HRs and 5 SBs in only 22 games. But folks were unsure if he had benefitted from small sample syndrome the second time.

Tucker has been at times a bit of a controversial subject, through no fault of his own as he was a piece that the Astros would not consider trading no matter the treasure. Christian Yelich? He probably was even a consideration in the Justin Verlander trade before the Astros dug their heels in and traded other prospects at the last second before the trade deadline in 2017. We sure would rather have had Christian Yelich than a skinny kid with a long uppercut swing hitting .141 BA/ .439 OPS.

Well, 2020 is at full swing. Well as full a swing that a sport can get into when it is being interrupted by hurricanes, protests and COVID. But after suffering an Alex Bregman-esque beginning to the season, Kyle Tucker’s at bats have become Must-See events for those fans still watching.

On August 18th Tucker was hitting a puny .192 BA/ .234 OBP/ .563 OPS. On the plus side, he had somehow scored 14 runs in 19 games, but he only had 2 HRs and 4 BBs and he looked like the start of a bust.

But beginning with his walk-off home run on August 19th, he has carried this club for 10 straight games. In those 10 games, his numbers are insane – 10 runs scored, 5 triples, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs, 7 walks and slashing a robust .484 BA/ .579 OBP/ 1.805 OPS. He has basically been involved in half the runs scored during that decade of games.

He has become the Yordan Alvarez of 2020 as fans are checking out his at bats to see what he will do next. For some perspective, Alvarez in 87 games scored 58 runs, hit 27 HRs and knocked in 78 RBIs. If you project Tucker’s numbers for all 33 games this season (including the good and the bad) to 87 games – he would score 68 runs (more than Yordan), hit 15 HRs (much less than Yordan) and knock in 76 RBIs (basically the same as Yordan).  Now Tucker will probably never show Alvarez type of pure power, but Alvarez is not likely to put up 6 triples in his career, much less the 6 Tucker has managed in this short season.

What we have seen the last couple of weeks with Kyle Tucker is a young player adjusting on the fly. He is taking pitches outside the strike zone (finally). He is going the other way with pitches. He has been able to catch up with higher pitches that his uppercut swing used to miss. Will he stay this hot? No, but if he can hit that happy medium he will be the answer to one of the outfield spots opening up full time in 2021.

36 comments on “In praise of Kyle Tucker

  1. I have held back giving my total opinion on things that are going on, but I have let things sink in a bit and here is where I am.
    Overall I believe people have the right to protest, even sports teams. Hey its America and free speech should be respected. Overall I believe if people have had it with all this and want to stop supporting sports players that protest – that is absolutely their right too.
    Now where I have the biggest problem has to do with organizations that hide behind their motto/name and claim that any opposition to them is racist.
    Here is a comparison and you can apply it where you think it applies. Let’s say I start a new group called “Puppies Need Love”. My organization is kind of small potatoes until there are some high publicity busts of dog fighting rings and illegal puppy mills. All of a sudden we are the focus of the media for standing up for puppies and money is pouring into our coffers.
    We start financing protests that start out peaceful but become violent. We bring folks in from all over the country and they are burning pet stores and vandalizing people’s homes and beating up people who own pets. Now no one is allowed to say anything bad about us because “Puppies Need Love”. That is an absolute and you are a puppy hater if you oppose what my group is doing and in fact we label you a puppy murderer even though there is no proof of that.
    There are people out there that claim “All Animals Need Love”, but we shut that down immediately. No, cats and other animals already get love. Only “Puppies Need Love” and only puppies should get the unwavering support of what we do and if it gets violent it is only because those who believe that all animals need love are puppy haters who would drown puppies if they could and they cause the violence with their opposition.
    Now as it turns out when you go to my web site and when you look at my own background you find that while I do love puppies (who doesn’t) that the aim of my group is not so much getting puppies loved but is hell bent on the overthrow of the American government and the reinstatement of the Queen of England over the “colonies”. You are not allowed to point this out to anyone, because the media will call you a puppy killer if you do and you will lose your job, But it is the truth.

    Anyways I hope I made my point and I hope I keep my job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Extremely well put.
      Could not be any clearer.

      As for Mr Tucker. I had just about given up on him.
      I am beyond thrilled that I was wrong.
      I saw more upside in Whitley and I felt if one had to be traded it should be Tucker. I’m so hoping, in the near future, Mr. Whitley can join Mr. Tucker and become the new core of this team.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well Devin I love all animals. Well maybe not snakes or Great White sharks or those wild boars that dig up everybody’s yards and kill small animals or alligators…. I guess I am a horrid person for judging animals by their actions.
        But yes, among others, I do love puppies!!

        Like

  2. I’ve tried to submit this post 4 times now. I thought it was my phone at first. I’m using my laptop now, so if it doesn’t post, well…

    At least this time I was smart enough to copy/paste.

    _________________________________________
    “That was quite possibly the best way to put it, Dan… both tactfully and well thought out. I fear the follow up responses won’t be.

    The problem with any movement comes when extremists hijack said movement to the point where they get all of the attention/coverage which results in those of us who aren’t like that get lumped in with them, which ends up making people like myself afraid to even say anything anymore. Figures. One side has opposition to the extremists on one side and gets sh*t all over when they get overshadowed by extremists who are allegedly on their side but aren’t.

    I’m 42 years old and my health is to the point where 70 is probably wishful thinking . 60 might be pushing it. That used to depress me. Now seeing the way the world is , some days I welcome it. If I didn’t have a family I’d have opted out a long time ago. I’m stuck somewhere I don’t belong , and am reminded of it every day, including to my face occasionally. Worst was when I lived in Alvin. But that doesn’t matter so I’ll just keep my insignificant liberal mouth shut.

    So much damn hatred in the world right now, and I’m sick of it. Haven’t had or wanted a drink in 6 years . Quit cold turkey. Don’t know if it’s the Covid messing with my brain right now but I’m actually having a craving right now. Cold turkey may be turning into cooked goose.

    I’ve always wanted to live in Colorado, since I was 9 anyway. With each passing year it’s becoming less and less likely. The recent series vs the Rockies kind of hit me a bit (see… I actually turned it back around to baseball). I’d like to say I was torn on whom to root for. I’d be lying if I said that . The cheating did a number on me. I’m just amazed that Friday was more of a deal breaker for some than that was, but maybe not that amazed. I’ll elaborate no further. Rule #1 of being a comedian…Know your audience. ”
    _____________________________________

    At this point I ended the post with a joke involving the state of the world being caused by last year’s hype over Popeye’s chicken sandwich, but having to type up the same post multiple times kind of took the fun out of me a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

      • It is funny Billy but I basically typed my super long comment out on my phone and it would not post. I had to go do it on my laptop a second time to get it to post. You went through more than I did to post.
        Hang in there Billy – your family is far more important than all the crap out in the world and I’m sure they need you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Some thoughts:
    * I was pretty sure Dan was stewing about something more than Kyle Tucker.
    * Did teams not want to deal with the Astros because they hate the Astros, or because they just didn’t want to help the Astros get any better.
    * Yesterday, Richard Justice wrote that the Astros were the #1 team that needed to make a deal.
    *Mctaggart has been saying for weeks that the Astros were looking for pitching. Every time I saw that wondered if anyone else thought he was blowing smoke, like I did. When Verlander said a couple of weeks ago that he felt great, I wondered if it’s because Verlander feels great.
    * When Baker said he wasn’t sure when Diaz would be available, and then Diaz was in the lineup two days later, I smelled smoke.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So, lets talk about Kyle Tucker.
    Dan, you gave the stats for his first season, his second season, for the beginning of this year and for lately. But, lets look at his complete 2020 and see how it looks:
    Tucker is hitting .272 for the season with a .313 BABIP, so that indicates he has been average in luck, meaning his BA is legit. He has 1.2 WAR in 32 games, many of them as a DH. If you stretch that out over 150 games you are talking about a 5.0 WAR player which is All-Star numbers. His wRC+ is 140 which indicates an All Star. His HR’s stretch out to a 30HR pace as do his triples and his doubles. I doubt if anyone has ever had a 30-30-30 season like that.
    His slash line for the entire season is now not such a small sample: in 32 games and 126 PAs it is .272/.333/.588/.921. That is the kind of stats one could only have hoped for from him this season and those are better than his 2019 numbers in AAA.
    If Tucker could just be that guy, all the investment and all of the hype he received over the years would certainly be justified.
    By the way, Tucker has 31 hits and 18 of them are extra base hits, 6 2b, 6 3b and 6 HRs. That is the reason he only has 4 stolen bases.
    I also have noticed he has cut back on his pre-pitch routine which used to drive me crazy. He no longer takes as much time per pitch as Marwin did.
    Tucker has come along at just the right time, as far as I’m concerned.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, OP – his stats even with the slow start are impressive this short season. 26 runs scored and 29 RBIs are the equivalent of 128 runs scored and 142 RBIs over 162 games. That would have been 3rd in the majors in runs scored and 1st in RBIs last season.

      Like

  5. The kid is making pitchers throw strikes to him! And at this point anyway, the league has not learned where and how to throw those strikes. They will come up with something. More adjustments will be needed by Tucker, but I really am almost ready to agree that he’s finally gotten the hang of it. Let’s see how he gets through these next 27 games, assuming we get that far. And yeah 1OP, since he quit stepping out and getting fresh dirt on his hands after every bad swing and a miss, he’s been a force. Wonder who has been helping him find the way?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. OP – we all love it when the NY fans eat their own. And a lot of guys have problem taking the spotlight there.

    Well folks it feels like we just went through All Star week or something. The Astros played one day (two games) in the last five days. Now they are scheduled to play 11 games in the next 10.
    Saw where the A’s picked up Mike Minor who was great last year and meh this year. But they did seem to be lacking on the starting side of the pitching world.

    I’m not freaking about not picking up anyone at the deadline, though I hope it is a signal that the in-house cavalry is on the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In case you hadn’t noticed, the WS Champion Washington Baseball Team lost Anthony Rendon to free agency and are currently 12-20.
    The Angels paid Rendon a ton of money to go with Trout, Ohtani, Upton, Pujols and Simmons and their record is 12-24.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. One thing I thought was interesting was that a few games before he went on his streak, Tucker tried using batting gloves for a game or two. So, it is obvious he started trying different things. Was that because Cintron was gone? You guys bring up an interesting point.
    What’s interesting Larry is that is the exact advice you give someone in a slump – the exact advice that Altuve should be following…. be more selective and hit the other way when the pitch warrants it. Right now Altuve either gets pitches low and outside or low and in off the plate and he will keep getting those until he makes them use more of the plate.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Just making assumptions, but I agree with you all that think Houston did not make any moves at the trade deadline because other teams didn’t want to deal with them. It’s a new twist on the same old story, though. A lot of teams didn’t want to deal with Houston because of the front office’s pretentiousness. I would guess they didn’t want to take a chance at improving our squad as the failure of the 2020 Astros is something the other fanbases will unite behind, but also were concerned about how they would be seen by their own fans. Would someone brought from Houston be welcomed or immediately booed?

    Anyhow, on that Yankees fan blog complaining about overpaying for Gerrit Cole the link at the bottom was to an article complaining that the Yankees should have acquired Clevinger given how little the package they received from San Diego appealed to the writer. Everyone the asking price isn’t uniform for all teams. Cleveland was supposed to challenge for their division this year. They certainly don’t want to give the Yankees anything that makes them tougher to beat in the playoffs. However, I think Click is rolling the dice that Altuve/Springer/Bregman finish September strong and keep it going into October where anything can happen.

    Like

  10. Wow – you folks either are not watching the games or just don’t care even if you are watching – because no comments since 4:20 yesterday afternoon?

    Well it was a disheartening game yesterday. The Astros decided to ignore the winning hand they have played lately and did not score early. They blew a few chances and kind of sleep walked through the early portions of the game. Framber had control problems early as walks, hit by pitch and his error all helped lead to a 3-0 deficit.
    Michael Brantley had the big blow that looked for a moment to be the winning blow as he hit a 3 run homer to take the lead in the 8th. He had just missed hitting one out earlier in the game. But Ryan Pressly game up the tying run in the 9th, Springer and Altuve left the winning run on second in the bottom of the 9th and the team imploded in the top of the 10th.
    A balk, a throwing error by Correa (who had brilliantly completed two DPs with throws earlier in the game and had a 90 game error-less streak) and a throwing error by Maldonado led to two runs. The Astros seemed to have something going as Brantley knocked in Altuve with a single in the bottom of the 10th but he was wiped out by a Gurriel DP.
    It must have been a weird day at mlb.com too because checking out the box scores this morning they show it as 5-5 instead of 6-5 and the play by play does not show the second run scoring in the 10th inning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only checked into the game periodically as “not to beat the dead horse” since I’ve lost interest. Believe me it’s tough to just give up on a team that I’ve been following since it’s inception. However, it didn’t surprise me that Pressly blew a save opportunity, that we didn’t score early when we had numerous chances, but what did surprise me is when our stellar defense came apart at the seams. And the Rangers score 2 runs in the 10th and don’t even get a hit.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, you hit it on the head with your first sentence in my case.

      However, I usually am in bed by 8pm every night. At 6pm, we had a birthday celebration at a BBQ place called Harris County BBQ for the grandson yesterday evening and the game was not on their televisions. It was straight to bathe and bed for me afterwards.

      I am surprised by Pressley’s lack of consistent “great” pitching. The errors? I put that on Dusty. As I have stated before, it appears the club is not focused and not good on fundamentals.

      Even MLB is still in spring training mode.

      Right now is a great chance to close the gap between them and the A’s. Dudes, step it up and focus!

      Like

    • I’m pretty checked out on MLB right now. I’m just hoping no more of our players get hurt before the season is over. I’m not sure that feeling is going to change even when the postseason starts.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m thinking Click did not pick anyone up because they are not sure if Verlander will be back. And any deal made should not have been a rental, but one that would have made the 2021 team better.

    Like

  12. No rain for six weeks. Then, six inches of rain. No complaints. Ponds full, pastures greening up. Not many acorns, so it could be a good hunting season. Fall is in the air.
    Somebody has offered us a domestic live turkey. uh-oh! What will we do with that!
    Tomorrow, it’s checking out that fourth lake and a monthly trip to Aldi!
    (and a trip through Arbi’s drive thru). Shhh, don’t tell the Mrs. She’s frying chicken tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s