Nov 5, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) watches as hit ball hooks foul during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight: Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout the spring.
Today’s Astros Player of the Day is right fielder Kyle Tucker.
Originally drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, Kyle Tucker enters the 2023 season as a top-10 outfielder in MLB.
Now 26, Tucker is coming off a season in which he was both an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner. He blasted 30 home runs for the second consecutive season and posted his first 100+ RBI season (team leading 107). Tucker also stole 25 bases in 29 attempts. He has established himself as one of the premier right fielders in the game defensively, and his arm strength makes runners think twice before trying him.
Tucker’s batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS were all down from 2021, however, the Astros’ offense overall was down from 2021, as was offense across baseball. Tucker was once again victimized by extreme defensive shifts, especially early in the season. Despite the drops, he still put up solid numbers with .257 AVG, .808 OPS, and 128 OPS+.
For the past two seasons, Tucker has gotten off to very slow starts at the plate, only to heat up later in the season. Frequently he has balls with high expected batting averages turn into outs because of the shift. With MLB creating new rules regarding the shift, Tucker is one of the players expected to benefit most from these new rules, which prevent having more than two infielders on each side of second base and prevent having infielders from playing as short outfielders.
While contract extension talks have stalled between Tucker and the team, Tucker still has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining, so there is still plenty of time to work out a deal. Tucker has previously said he is not opposed to continuing discussions during the season.
Tucker has expressed he is committed to the Astros for as long as he is a member of the team and wants to continue to win championships and build a legacy in Houston.
Tucker is expected to bat fifth in the lineup regularly and should be counted on for another 30 home run, 100 RBI season with the potential of having a 30 homer, 30 stolen base season.