Kyle Tucker had one of the best season from May 1 on, but what can we expect from the Astros’ outfielder in the future?
It is truly hard to fathom that Kyle Tucker is only a 24-year-old. For a player who only has 248 games under his belt with the Houston Astros, Tucker truly looks like a seasoned veteran out there in 2021.
Once dubbed “Ted” due to the fact that his swing has a similar look to that of the Ted Williams, Tucker has been affectionately re-dubbed “King Tuck,” which seems to be more appropriate at the rate to which he is developing his game.
Tucker carried the Astros on his back at various points of the season, including postseason play. He truly was the team’s most valuable player, but is in the conversation for the league’s most valuable player?
It’s hard to deny that Tucker had a better season that Shohei Ohtani or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. However, it’s not hard to image that if he can put together a full season like he did from May 1 and on, it will be hard to keep Tucker out of the MVP conversation.
Tucker was tasked with the very heavy role of replacing the offensive production that George Spring took with him North of the Border. Frankly, Tucker started out a little slow at the dish.
If you took out that performance prior to the start of May, Tucker led the American League with a .325 batting average, .391 on-base percentage and .609 slugging percentage.
Tucker wasn’t only getting the job done at the plate. He finished the season in the top-three for a Gold Glove in right field, while many fans considered Joey Gallo’s Gold Glove win over Tucker as highway robbery.
Gallo played a very solid outfield, but played little of that in right field after a trade that sent him from Arlington to the Bronx. Regardless, Tucker was extremely reliable in the field. He was tied for the American League lead with 11 defense runs saved. With going head-to-head with National League teams (and with the Atlanta Braves in the World Series), Tucker proved that he could even patrol centerfield when needed.
In the ’21 Postseason, the Astros’ offensive performance, as a unit, was perplexing. One night they looked like they could score 100 runs. The next night, the right person could have been convinced that they were watching a team of rookies who never played an inning in the postseason. Tucker proved to be the mainstay through all the ups and downs.
Tucker slashed .279/.333/.541 through 61 postseason at-bats. He lead players from both leagues with 15 postseason RBI. Throughout each series, he proved timely and effective in each facet of the game. He smacked four home runs, swiped five bases and put it all on the line of the defensive side of the ball in center field.
The Astros and Tucker are going to be together for the next four seasons, with Tucker still on his rookie contract and becoming arbitration eligible in 2023. Should the outfielder keep performing, I imagine we will see general manager James Click, attempt to offer Tucker a team-friendly raise before he hits the open market.
Yes, I am ready to change the “Pay The Man” hashtag to focus on Tucker after this offseason.
That said, manager Dusty Baker needs to start considering moving Tucker up in the lineup. It’s clear that Alex Bregman has had a rough year, battling injuries. Until he proves that he is able to deliver at the plate again, it seems like a natural solution for Tucker to slide into that three-hole spot in the lineup.
Tucker would be protected by the professional hitter, Michael Brantley and one of MLB’s most terrifying RBI threats, Yordan Alvarez. If Tucker is able to find himself in that offense role consistently, we could really see some MVP-esque production out of the young man next season.