The Astros’ golden era of baseball has been filled with greatness, both on a team level and an individual level. We’re spoiled to be living in this era of Astros baseball. It’s easy to fall into expecting a World Series ring at the end of each season, but when one takes a step back and examines this era from afar, the magnitude of their success begins to sink in.
Multiple players from their dynasty will be enshrined in Cooperstown one day. Some will wear Astros’ caps and others won’t.
In light of the election announcement last week, we’re going to take a look at the most deserving candidates, from the no doubters to the deserving dependent upon voters view of the scandal. We’ll look at the health dependent and the too early to tell, but they’re on track. And lastly, we’ll look at the just missed, the Hall of Greatness.
We took a look at the no doubt candidates in part one. In part two, we took a look at thehealth dependent candidates. Inn part three, we'll look at the two candidates that already have the necessary resume, but may be most marred by the 2017 scandal fallout. Now for part four, we'll only have one candidate to analyze in the too early, but tracking category.
The Astros have a ton of young talent on their roster. Cristian Javier is unhittable. Framber Valdez is a Cy Young candidate. Jeremy Peña just won both ALCS and World Series MVP in his rookie season. The list can go on and one.
One current Astro has the makings of a Hall of Famer, but it's just way too early to tell. If they continue on the pace they are on, they will have a very convincing case for Cooperstown. That Astro is Kyle Tucker.
Kyle Tucker heads into 2023 with a lifetime slash line of .268/.335/.507 for an .837 career OPS. When his woeful, small-sample size debut in 2018 is removed, his numbers jump to .274 with an .857 OPS. Those are no-doubt all-star numbers, but are we really going to talk about Kyle Tucker and the Hall of Fame in the same breath?
Yes, because if he continues putting up the numbers he has in his first five seasons, he may have a no doubt candidacy.
Because of September call-ups and the pandemic shortened 2020 season, Kyle Tucker really only has two full big-league seasons under his belt. In the last two seasons, he has hit .275 with an .860 OPS. He's got 60 home runs in that time, 65 doubles, 199 RBI and 39 stolen bases, 25 of which came last season.
His last two seasons have been fantastic. 10 years at that pace and Tucker is looking at 300+ home runs, 300+ stolen bases and 300-400 doubles. Ironically, those numbers may fall well short of what Tucker actually finishes with. Yes, that's a bold statement, but no player in baseball stands to gain more from the rule changes than Kyle Tucker.
We have written at length about Tucker's numbers without the shift. With the shift being eliminated, his raw hitting stats may sky rocket. A .300 season with 30 home runs, 40 doubles, a .900+ OPS and 115 RBI is very much in play for King Tuck in 2022.
What we have not covered is the impact of the bigger bases. The MLB has increased the bases for 2023 from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. This will make the distance between bases shorter by 4.5 inches. Think about how many bang-bang plays occur at second base. With a shorter distance of 4.5 inches, it's likely we see players try to steal bases far more often moving forward.
Tucker's 25 stolen bases in 2022 were ninth-best in the game. He was only caught stealing four times. With an 86% success rate when swiping bags with even the smaller bases, imagine the damage Tucker can do with less ground to cover. It's easy to see Tucker stealing 35 bags with as often as he will be on base in 2023.
Tucker is a great base-stealer without being a burner. He finished 2022 in the 32nd percentile in sprint speed. It's unlikely Tucker just falls off a cliff when it comes to swiping bags because he does it more with guile than with raw speed.
On top of his impact at the plate and at the basepaths, he's arguably the best defensive outfielder in baseball, finishing in the 89th percentile in outs above average and with 13 defensive runs saved. He was awarded a gold glove for his efforts. He'll likely leave the game with multiple gold glove awards to his name.
We may be way ahead of ourselves here, but don't be surprised if you look up in 15 years and Kyle Tucker is finishing up a Hall of Fame caliber career, especially if he has a monstrous next three-to-five years. And when he does, don't say we didn't tell you so.