Kyle Tucker (again)

I don’t get it. After last night’s game, this may seem like hitting him when he is down, but this is not a new thought for me. Anyone who reads the bus ride regularly may recall my comments there from a couple years ago. I am certainly not a scout or a professional, so I have tried to remain optimistic as the Astro brass is apparently sold on his future value. But I still don’t get it.

I have watched a lot of baseball over the past 60+ years, and it still seems to me that Tucker suffers by comparison to Jason Layne - not just to Ted Williams. Layne Tore the cover off the ball in Round Rock, ran the bases well, and played an adequate CF. His arm was not too strong, but was very accurate. Tucker may have a stronger arm, but his throws are often off line, resulting in a lot of extra bases by those who have learned to take the chance.

It is at the plate, though, that the comparison really kicks in. I was pretty young when I saw Williams, but having studied him some since, I wonder if he ever really got fooled by a pitcher or extended the strike zone unnecessarily. Tucker does both regularly. And when Layne got to the bigs, it did not take pitchers long to find holes in his swing. Tucker’s unorthodox swing is hard for me to evaluate, but it has always seemed to be vulnerable in that regard. I will try to remain optimistic, but the apparent confidence in him as a mainstay in the OF dir the next decade seems misplaced to me.

I don’t get it.

Jason Lane.

I don’t either. I hope/pray for the best but he doesn’t instill that confidence he’ll come through regularly/consistently. He had a great season (especially at the end) last year, but I was/am withholding judgment.

Yes – I went back and forth between Jayson Lane and Jason Layne and finally just gave up. Thanks for the correction.

Could be wrong, but he’s batting more in a crouch. Last night’s postgame show alluded briefly to the lobs, but Tucker was never mentioned

Well, that’s an oversight, seeing as he was responsible for half of them.

I know some don’t like to look at individual LOB, but I think it can be telling, as it accounts not just for a guy left on base at the end of an inning, but how many opportunities you had to drive him in. The Astros had 26 last night. Tucker had nine of those. That means that in the five times he came to the plate, there were nine guys on base. Not only did he not drive any in, he failed to advance a single one. He looked at strike three with the tying run in scoring position to end the game. He wasn’t the only guy who had a bad night at the plate, but he was just horrible. There is no spinning it positive in any way.

Well, he didn’t catch COVID. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

My issue is not with the concept of looking at this as a failure; my issue is calling it LOB and in not counting it if the batter gets a hit which does not drive in a run.

True, if a guy comes up with a runner on 1B, hits a single and runner goes to 3B, the batter is not credited with a LOB. But if that runner at 3B doesn’t score, someone else eventually will. I understand that individual LOB is an imperfect measure, but it also helps to tell a story that you don’t always get simply looking at inning-ending LOB. The Astros only had 10 LOB last night. But there is more to the story. They squandered a lot of opportunities. It’s part of the big picture. Either way, I think we can agree that last night Tucker had numerous opportunities and did not deliver.

Jason Lane played at Round Rock when it was AA, and when he did, he was the same age as Kyle Tucker is now having played in the big leagues in 4 different seasons.

I think there is a lot of (obvious) truth to the idea that “He ain’t no Ted Williams”

There could be some truth also in that he’s closer to Jason Lane than Ted Williams.

Realistically though, Jason Lane was no Kyle Tucker. It is entirely conceivable that at the end of this season Kyle Tucker’s career numbers will basically be equal to what Jason Lane achieved in his entire career, and Kyle Tucker would still younger than Lane was when he made his MLB debut.

IMO, Tucker looks pretty good. I would say a hopeful comparison (at least offensively) is a LH George Springer (Ted Williams is pie in the sky). IMO, a big problem for Kyle Tucker with the fans is that he doesn’t “look” like he’s playing hard in the way that like a George Springer or Hunter Pence types do, and so he will not be loved like those players are/were.

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We’ve piled on Tucker pretty good here. Every pitch looks pretty hittable to us. We all want him to become a great hitter.


I know jack squat about analyzing swings and I wouldn’t recognize Ted Williams’s swing if it hit me upside the head with an autographed bat. But I figured I’d dig into some of the Statcast numbers and see if I could figure anything out.

In 2020, Tucker got 228 PA over 58 regular season games and compiled a nice line: .268/.325/.512. That was about 25% above the MLB average (per wRC+ & OPS+) and it was consistent with his 2019 production. That’s not Ted Williams, but it’s a good and valuable player. And he’s still knocking the crap out of the ball, with an average exit velocity of 91.1 mph (same as last year), and a max exit velocity of 109.6 mph (not far off last year’s 110.9). And he’s improved his strikeout rate to boot: 20.2% last year, 14.8% this year.

Here are some of the big differences so far this season. His batting average on balls in play is horrific. Typically, you’d expect about BABIP to be around .300, and that’s where it was for Tucker last year (.303). So far this season, his BABIP is an abysmal .154. Stat jockeys often attribute low BABIP to bad luck–i.e., hitting it right at 'em. If it’s just been bad luck so far, then that BABIP will come up over the course of the season and more balls wll start falling in for hits.

But sometimes, a low BABIP can speak to something more systemic. Here are a couple of candidates. His walk rate has fallen off a cliff (2020: 7.9%; 2021: 3.7%), he’s swinging at more pitches (a career high 57%, compared to 50.5% last year), and he’s pulling the ball a lot less (2019-20: ~47%; 2021: 27.9%). To me, this suggests that he’s not waiting for the right pitch to hit and is expanding his zone too much. Maybe he’s pressing.

He’s also getting under the ball a lot more. He’s popping up a lot (2020: 6.1%; 2021: 16.3%) and his launch angle is radically different (2018-20: about 16 degrees; 2021: 24.3 degrees). Maybe that’s due to an intentional change to his swing; maybe it’s just small sample size. If it’s a swing change, I don’t know that the new launch angle is actually worse, given how hard Tucker hits the ball–for comparison, in 2019, Mike Trout managed to rack up 45 homers with a similar exit velocity/launch angle profile (90.9 mph/22.2 degrees).

What does it all mean? I dunno. It’s only been 12 games into a long season. His 9th inning K last night left a sour taste in the mouth, but I’m betting that over the course of the season, on balance, he’ll be just fine.


It has only been 12 games.

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I totally agree with this description of failure. I disagree with calling it LOB if a non-scoring hit does not count in the stat.

Although the approach is different, I would like to at see a batting average with runners on base that is close to the batting average with the bases empty. I would love to see both higher.

Bump from the past, sorry, but I didn’t see where else to put it

(Same here; no where else to put this.)
MLB kudos on Tucker’s adjustments

(PS: A stat quoted near the end: in 54 AB in the last 15 games, Tuck has had just 3 K’s.)