According to Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle:
“Yordan Alvarez’s probable absence will allow Kyle Tucker to get “quite a bit of action” at the beginning of the season, Astros manager Dusty Baker said on Friday.”
Many had hoped that Tucker would get an opportunity this season, but with Josh Reddick earning the starting RF job it appeared that he would once again be headed to the bench (George Springer and Michael Brantley are locked into the first two spots). With Alvarez sidelined Tucker will get another chance, the question is will he be able to seize the day and carve out a regular role.
Over the past two seasons Tucker has 144 PA in the Majors, hitting .206 with 4 HR and 6 SB. While all of his power came over 72 PA last season (4 HR and 5 SB, to go along with 6 doubles), he also saw his strikeout rate rise to 27.8%. Overall he showed a poor approach, with a 13.3% SwStr% (he was at 13.8% over 463 PA at Triple-A) and 35.4% O-Swing%. His struggles came against everything but “hard” pitches:
- Hard – 8.40%
- Breaking – 19.51%
- Offspeed – 24.14%
Getting that right is going to be key towards his success, because the underlying metrics all scream of a player who can thrive in terms of his power:
- Exit Velocity – 91.3 mph (he was at 92 mph in ’19)
- Launch Angle – 15.9 degrees
- Hard Hit% – 46.9%
He was putting a few too many balls in the air last season (46.8%), but we can chalk that up partly to a small sample size. He was at 39.0% at Triple-A and he’s generally shown a willingness to utilize the entire field. As long as he’s making regular contact a .260+ average should be a given, and there’s the potential for him to be much better than that. Given the blend of power and speed he brings, with 58 HR and 50 SB over 1,001 PA over the past two seasons at Triple-A, and that would be more than enough.
There’s a reason he’s been considered among the better prospects in the league, and it wouldn’t be shocking if he did take this opportunity and deliver. Maybe he platoons, but with a .557 SLG against southpaws last season that too shouldn’t be an issue. Grab Tucker in all formats immediately, with the potential for him to be a starter all season long.
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our Updated 2020 preseason rankings: