Months ago, I wrote an article to say 2021 was gonna be Kyle Tucker’s year, assuming he would have his big break next season. It turns out it happened in 2020: Despite a rough environment for the Astros, the 23-year-old came through with a great performance from Day 1 to the postseason. It’s now clear that we should be excited about him in the long term and that I was absolutely wrong.
Tucker impressed with a robust .268/.325/.512/.837 slash line across 58 games and 228 plate appearances. He racked up 56 hits, along with 12 doubles, a league-leading six triples, and nine home runs. Kyle also compiled 42 runs batted in, 33 scored runs, eight steals in nine attempts, 18 bases on balls, and 46 strikeouts.
But Tucker was more than that. Way more.
He certainly brought POWER to Houston’s lineup. Tucker was the only Astro to record a 90+ MPH average exit velocity in 2020 (91.1 MPH). The second on the list was Yuli Gurriel (89.3 MPH). The young outfielder also registered the highest hard hit% (balls hit at 95+ MPH) on the team: 44.5%
The Tampa native led the Astros in extra-base hits as well by a wide margin (27), as the second on Astros’ list is now free agent George Springer, with 22. In fact, Tucker was sixth in extra-bases in the American League, only behind José Abreu, José Ramírez, Rafael Devers, Eloy Jiménez, and Mike Trout. He obviously led the H-Town squad in XBH% (11.8%).
Tucker’s production was constant. On average, he hit a home run every 23.2 at-bats and drove in a run every five trips to the plate. The latter mark was the Astros’ best, above Martín Maldonado’s 5.6 AB/RBI.
It’s also good to know Tucker made adjustments as the season went on. At the beginning of the 2020 campaign, he couldn’t hit anything but fastballs. Well, he made changes and even though he didn’t cruise against other pitches, he was much better facing breaking and offspeed stuff.
Tucker is a jewel, a precious piece that can avoid a disaster for a Houston team that is plagued by free agents and will stay that way in 2021 as well. He proved to everybody he can translate his Minors numbers to the MLB and be successful. Kyle runs, fields, hits for a respectable average, and has POWER.
For him, 2021 will be a tougher challenge. Without wanting to put more pressure on his shoulders, he’d probably be obligated or expected to play as a 10-year veteran, especially when it’s unclear whether the Astros will bring back Springer or not. Fortunately, the team will welcome Yordan Álvarez back, who can be a monster DH. Next year, it’ll be interesting to see them both perform in a lineup that’s likely to face serious absences.