The only blemish on Kyle Tucker’s otherwise fantastic 2021 campaign was his relatively poor April when he hit .181/.238/.372 with 19 strikeouts. The key culprit for the star outfielder was bad luck on batted balls, as evidenced by his .164 BABIP and a -.104 differential between his wOBA and xwOBA. He was also stinging the ball with a 91.2 miles per hour average exit velocity. In other words, Tucker was snakebit as a hitter last April.
Fast forward to April 2022, and we’re perhaps witnessing history repeat itself. While the current season remains young, and Tucker only has 37 plate appearances to his credit, his .121/.216/.303 start is naturally drawing comparisons to last year. One could argue that Tucker is even more snakebit now than last April based on the differential between his wOBA (.227) and xwOBA (.436) combined with a .083 BABIP.
Again, we’re not that far into the new season, and Tucker has yet to accumulate nearly enough plate appearances for hitting metrics to stabilize. But it is interesting to see how one of the best hitters last season, who had a slow April, is now having another slow start.
There are no substantial red flags to note as he isn’t hitting the ball on the ground more than his career averages suggest or an increase of whiffs at the plate. If anything, Tucker has actually improved his plate discipline to start the season compared to last year, if a small sample can give us any indication this early in the campaign. Sometimes it is a feast or famine when it comes to hits, and Tucker is in the middle of a famine. The rest of the Astros, in general, are as well.
By his expected metrics, however, Tucker ought to have a turnaround at the plate...sooner or later. In fact, his .691 xSLG and .436 xwOBA are currently in baseball's top five and ten percent in baseball. Also, only six hitters have a higher difference between their wOBA and xwOBA than Tucker does at the present moment. His teammate, Martín Maldonado, is seventh on the list, for whatever that is worth. In other words, don’t panic about Tucker and this offense. They’ll score plenty of runs, even with a cold start in April.