Amen to that, Lance

There apparently was an article in the Athletic written about Lance McCullers praising his teammate Kyle Tucker as being outrageously underrated. I would link to that article, but based on the bagels I make off of these posts, I won’t tie to one that demands payment.

However, that does not mean I disagree with the sentiment. What Lance said just echoes what I’ve been thinking about KTuck for quite a while. 

After a bad first cup of coffee in the majors (64 ABs / .141 BA/  .236 OBP/ .439 OPS) in 2018, he had a better cup of coffee in 2019, followed by very good, under-the-radar performances ever since.

One of the things that gets ignored is that he’s the closest thing the Astros have to a five-tool player with excellent base running, a good arm, Gold Glove fielding, and hitting for power leading the way. His batting average lags a bit but has been above league average, and with the elimination of shifts this season, his BA has been hanging steady around .300.

Along with the Gold Glove he won last year after being a finalist the year before, his base stealing has been beyond excellent. In his career, he has stolen 58 bases against 8 caught stealing (88%), which is stellar. He is a great run producer – knocking in runs at a terrific pace.

Why does he not get quite the recognition out there for how good he is?

If you compare his hitting to Yordan Alvarez, who is considered a top 5 hitter in the bigs, it looks like this for their careers.

  ABs Runs Doubles HRs RBIs SBs BA OBP OPS
Tucker 1476 222 88 78 275 58 .270 .340 .843
Alvarez 1403 261 93 104 310 2 .294 .383 .970

He is very good, but trailing Yordan in most areas. In fact, after the huge game-changing home runs Alvarez hit in the playoffs last season, Tucker is definitely in Alvarez’s shadow. The fact that he is superior in defense and base running does not really register in a Sports Center home run highlight world. Nor the fact that he rarely misses ball games for a nagging injury or two.

There is also his demeanor. He is really quite stoic, in an oh shucks kind of way. Seeing him get thrown out of a recent ball game after running inside the running lane was a total shocker.

He also has a style of running and fielding that is deceiving to those watching. He just doesn’t look like he is moving that fast until you look back and realize he’s gone from right-center field all the way to foul territory with those long loping strides. Similarly, he is not a typical build for a base stealer, but he has an awesome judgment for when to go and rarely gets caught heading into second or third base.

But it is nice to see him appreciated by his teammates. We may well lose him when he becomes a free agent after the 2025 season, but the fans need to appreciate him just like his teammates do…while we can.


22 comments on “Amen to that, Lance

  1. There is nothing he does not do well on the baseball field. We should enjoy and appreciate his overall excellence in a Houston uniform for the next almost 3 years. He’s one of the best. Personally, what I like most about Kyle Tucker is that while he’s not swift, you’d never know it unless you went to Baseball Savant and read that he’s in the 28th percentile as it applies to sprint speed.


    • That’s the truth, but I’ve never felt like his defense suffered for lack of speed. If some of the athletic burners we have tried in the past had half the knowledge or instincts of Tucker they’d be making 8 figures to play CF somewhere.


  2. Watching the game last night one of those Apple folks quoted Dusty Baker as saying that Maldonado was the only guy that can catch Valdez and his sharp breaking stuff.

    I know Abreu was pissed at himself for getting throw out at the plate with no outs. Worst was that it was the only play the Phillies had. Jake would have been safe at first and the bases would have been loaded had Abreu stayed at third. Alas, with Bannon and Maldy coming up, there was no guarantee of any runs being scored.


    • I call BS on the Dusty comment. What do we call it when Maldy drops below a .100 BA. Where did this Bannon guy come from? Never heard of him. Hate that Dubon’s hitting streak came to an end. Well today is another day.


  3. I tried twice this morning to post my frustrations with our present Astro baseball club. Now I’m frustrated that both my attempted posts failed to post! Seems to happen when I go more than a couple of paragraphs. You guys are probably better off not hearing so much from me anyway.


  4. Today is Labour Day in the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis. Traditionally, everyone goes to the beach and drinks too much rum. I did that yesterday instead. Missed the Astro game. But I’m pleased that we ended up the month with a 15-13 record. Heck, we’ve still got plenty of issues and plenty to complain about and maybe a new issue with Urquidy, but overall, we’ve survived. I’ll take that. I’ll complain about something tomorrow.


    • I hate to be a smart a$$ about this daveb – but how does Labour Day (it’s hard to add that extra “u” in there) vary from other days of the year? On other days everyone goes to the beach but they drink the right amount of rum?


  5. It doesn’t take much evaluation to see in the batter’s box Tucker is no Alvarez. That said he is probably better in every other phase of the game.

    I missed the first two games this weekend; box scores suggested I didn’t miss much. Did catch last night.

    Hopefully the reports come back on Urquidy clear. I noticed even before that pitch that somewhere around pitch 68 his command was off. With Lance still a bit away an injury to Urquidy could cause France to get the call. He got a late start to his season but he has had a solid 19 innings at AAA now.

    You know at some point a light is going to turn on in Abreu’s bat. It’s just frustrating watching him hit nothing but singles right now and not even doing those at a particularly high rate. Those games like Friday or Saturday when the offense is sputtering is when they need him to do something.


  6. No complaints. Korey Lee has 93 at bats. Yainer Diaz has 28.

    GoStros1, where are you? Some of us are wondering what the deal is with Will Wagner. He’s played in just 6 games to date. Still on the Active list. Not peep since April 18. Any scoop?


  7. There are so many holes in just about every phase of our game right now that it is infuriating. Yet, somehow, our little band of underperformers still managed to finish April 15-13, and only 2 games out of the division lead. So, every time I want to post something pointing out our obvious deficiencies, I have decided to bite my tongue, sit down, shut up, and take comfort with the fact that ‘at least we are not in the AL East.’


  8. Don’t know if anybody heard the comment the announcers made about Dusty. They said Dusty told them his “goal” was to win 15 games each month. That’s 90 wins. Personally that is an asinine comment as 90 wins probably won’t win the division and might miss the playoffs.

    Glad we managed to pull it off last night. Kudos to the bull pen. Time to shake up the line up and move Tucker up and Abreu down. So far I’d say we’re getting pennies on the dollar for Abreu. Meanwhile Yuli is hitting .306 with a .807 OPS. Who’d of thunk that?

    Philly is a lot better IMO than they were last year. They might get to the WS again this year. One final note the broadcast for the game last night was terrible. The announcers were constantly talking about other things during the game. Obviously biased against the Astros too. Tried to watch Fridays game on Apple TV on a trial basis. Don’t waste your money. Don’t know where they get these announcers but they need to return them from where ever they came from. I’d almost found myself wanting Joe Buck to call the game but not quite.


  9. Speaking of the Bucks – saw where Mike Shannon, who announced a zillion games with the Cards with Joe’s dad – Jack Buck – passed away at 83.


  10. Yes, missing Chas, Brantley, Altuve and having Maldy, Bregman (I’ll complain about Bregman tomorrow) and Abreu stinking the place up and until recently having Pena struggling, we’re in pretty good shape in spite all our issues.

    And it’s a good thing guys are coming back, because if you look at the BABip’s for Frenchy, Julks and Jake, they’ll continue to correct back somewhat to their norms.

    Oh, and I forgot McCullers. Maybe subconsciously I’m not counting on much from him going forward.


  11. I’m not feeling very positive about Urquidy and his shoulder – as Elton John once sang “I’ve seen that movie too”.


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