The Houston Astros‘ bats hit an inconsistent funk over the past week before entering their homestand with the Los Angeles Angels. This inconsistency is backed up advanced metrics, but no Astros’ hitter is showing more unluckiness than Kyle Tucker.
The now seventh-hole hitter hasn’t been hitting anywhere near his potential, when looking at the more traditional statistics. While leading all of baseball in triples in 2020, the left-hander hasn’t come around to his long extra base hits in 2021. There isn’t an issue of not seeing the ball well; it is more about Tucker having hard hit outs into defensive shifts.
With Kyle Tucker’s numbers down, he should look to hitting for average rather than power.
As each at bat has the same value depending on the status of the game or the runners on base, Tucker enters the box with a high chance of bringing in hitters like Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa and/or Yuli Gurriel, who all have substantial numbers thus far. As the left-hander is averaging an exit velocity of 91.1 MPH, Tucker’s expected batting average (.287) doesn’t correlate to his current batting average (.181) whatsoever.
At a certain point, we cannot always defend a player for hard hit outs, that aren’t hitting the grass as expected. There is a sense of adjusting to survive in baseball, and it is seen over the years with how immensely different the game is from 20 years ago.
With this in mind, it would behoove Tucker to adapt to pitchers rather than the defense adapting to him. As his walk rate (2.2%) is in the bottom four percent in the league, the left-hander isn’t taking his pitches and is swinging long and chasing pitches away.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
As 8 of his 15 hits have been two bases or more, slugging isn’t an issue when Tucker makes contact, but this is hurting his on base percentage (.205), which is below the league average (.322 in 2020). Tucker is in a prime spot of the order to bring in runners, while having 13 RBIs (second behind Gurriel) this season. After a hot start of driving in runs, Tucker has cooled off.
While crushing the fastball in 2020, Tucker’s run value has dropped 18 points in 2021 off the four-seam. His expected batting average imploded from .361 to .125, which shows how pitchers are figuring Tucker out. His long swing drags through the zone leading to him rolling over on pitches and not making the contact he wants.
I’m not a major league hitter and no where close to being a major league hitting coach, but I know how to read numbers. It is obvious Tucker is making good, hard contact, and as the defense adjusts to him, the left-hander will need to adjust to the defense. All in all, it is a great sign he is hitting the ball well, but while he slides in a crucial part of the lineup, advanced metrics can’t always protect him from leaving runners on base.