Kyle Tucker Walk-Off Proves What Astros Lineup Should Have Been All Along
By Alec Brown
In so many ways, Dusty Baker is great. He brought stability in the face of scandal. He leads a clubhouse that exudes professionalism while other teams pout any time an opponent might have sticky stuff of throw inside. He built on a clubhouse culture that AJ Hinch had bred to win and welcome in rookies ready to play. He is never lacking in soundbites.
In so many ways, he's frustrating. He still tends to manage out of the 1980's, insistent on carrying left-handed relievers and worrying about splitting Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez in the lineup.
Newsflash-until Jose Altuve returns (imminently), Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker are your two best hitters. It doesn't matter if they both hit left-handed, both hit right-handed, stand on their heads, or tie their hands behind their backs.
Yordan Alvarez must bat third and Kyle Tucker must hit clean-up.
For much of the season, Kyle Tucker has been batting fifth. Baker has been adamant that Alvarez and Baker be broken uo by a righty, worried that a left-handed reliever could navigate them with ease.
Dusty, who did Yordan win game 1 of last year's ALDS off of? A lefty? Who did Yordan win the World Series off of? A lefty. Who did Kyle Tucker walk off last night? A lefty.
Yordan is hitting .300 with an .886 OPS against lefties this season. For his career, Yordan has a .979 OPS against righties and .956 against lefties. There is virtually no difference.
As for Tucker, he actually carries reverse splits. He's hitting only .255 against righties, but .314 against lefties. His .830 OPS against lefties is 47 points higher than his OPS against righties.
So what was the concern about left-handed relievers again?
And when Baker was splitting the two, he was sandwiching José Abreu between them. Depending on which metric you use, Abreu has been the worst or second-worst qualified hitter in the MLB this season. His .531 OPS and 47 OPS+ are the stuff nightmares are made of.
Yet he batted cleanup 31 of the first 36 times for no reason other than to break up the two best hitters, who clearly have no issues with lefties.
Since being moved to cleanup, Tucker is hitting .321. Teams are being forced to pitch to Yordan Alvarez since he finally has some protection behind him.
With the return of Altuve potentially happening on Friday, opposing pitchers and managers will have no hope of navigating a first four of Altuve, Bregman, Alvarez and Tucker. This must be the lineup when Jose is back.
The Astros have now won seven of eight and are only two back of the Rangers with Altuve back any day. Watch out, MLB. The Bad Boys of Baseball will be back on top in no time.