Astros: Don’t sweat Kyle Tucker’s slow start to his MLB career
By Eric Huysman
Kyle Tucker is getting the swings in, just not getting the early results that Astros fans were expecting.
The Astros are second in the American League in runs scored with 497, behind the Red Sox 525 runs via ESPN. With that run production and the pitching staff limiting the opposition to 306 runs, the Astros are pretty good. They have a five-game lead in the AL West over the Mariners, but only the third best record in the big leagues. The Red Sox and Yankees both have a higher win percentage, but the Yankees have played four fewer games.
With Carlos Correa on the DL, the Astros have tried to piece together a lineup. Tyler White is technically up for Correa, allowing for Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Bregman to take turns at shortstop. White got off to a slow start, but he has homered in back to back games. Correa is due to return after the break or shortly after that.
Whatever Tucker offers offensively will help, but is not expected to carry the team.
Most of the focus has been on Kyle Tucker, who has gotten his first taste of big league pitching in his first eight games. Tucker has 26 at-bats with the Astros, batting .157 with an OPS of .434 via Baseball-Reference. His only extra-base hit was a hard hit double down the left field line. Tucker has scored five runs in his first eight games, so he is having some impact. He has also been making some hard contact at the plate, with nothing to show for it.
Tucker has also thrown out a runner at the plate with a laser throw. However, some fans are already calling for Tucker to go down. As we have learned with Bregman, it pays to be patient with their young players. We have seen players like Jon Singleton, full of promise, not show their potential in the big leagues. Tucker is not one of those players, but he may get off to a slow start to his career.
Maybe it’s just a slow start.
Tucker didn’t get off to the hottest start to his Triple-A career, with a batting average of .274 with seven homers in April and May. In June, we saw Tucker’s bat wake up and bat .380 with six homers. At the time of Tucker’s promotion, his Triple-A slash line was .293/ .360/ .493/ .853, via Baseball-Reference. He had 14 homers and 61 RBI, which projects some power at the big league level.
Looking at some Statcast numbers, Tucker has a higher average exit velocity (93.7 MPH) than the typical major leaguer (88.7 MPH). He has only struck out five times in his 26 at-bats, so he is making hard contact. Let’s take a look at Bregman’s first eight games compared to Tucker’s start. Thanks to Larry for the assist with the Bregman and Tucker comparison.
- Bregman (2016): 1 for 32, two walks, ten strikeouts
- Tucker (2018): 4 for 26, one double, one stolen base, two walks, five strikeouts
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Bregman is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, so we can see how players can turn things around. When Correa returns, we are not sure who will get sent down between White and Tucker. He was only batting .174 in 13 games in July before his promotion. We have seen some promising signs with Tucker so far. Maybe with a little more patience, we could see another young star on the roster.