Is Kyle Tucker Baseball’s Most Underrated Player?

Kyle Tucker has been one of the league's most dynamic all around players for years now. So why doesn't he get the recognition he deserves?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - MAY 19: Kyle Tucker #30 of the Houston Astros hits a three run home run in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park on May 19, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Astros have been one of the league’s most electrifying teams of the past decade. Since 2015 they’ve appeared in eight of nine postseasons, participated in the last seven American League Championship Series, and made four World Series, winning two of them.

Throughout Houston’s consistent reign of the American League, certain names have become synonymous with their success, 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve, 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2022 AL MVP finalist Yordan Alvarez, and 2019 AL MVP Runner-Up Alex Bregman.

But what about Kyle Tucker?

Despite not getting the shine the other three Astros star hitters seem to receive, Tucker been one of the few bright spots for the slow starting Astros in 2024, slashing an impressive .287/.417/.623 up to this point.

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And he currently sits in a tie for the league’s highest fWAR this season at an even 3.0, alongside the Los Angeles Dodgers’ power duo in Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani.

Names like Betts and Ohtani are the type of household name that even the most casual baseball fan will recognize. And looking even further down the list of WAR leaders in 2024 at names like Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, they all seem to get more shine than Tucker has ever gotten in the past few seasons.

Tucker is simply underappreciated compared to the league’s most marketable stars despite being just as good as them. And the numbers seem to back this up.

All stats in this article were taken prior to play on May 20th

Tucker is an Elite Hitter…And Gets Little Recognition For It

Kyle Tucker is having a dominant season at the plate so far in 2024.

Among qualified hitters league-wide this season, Tucker’s 186 wRC+ ranks 2nd, only behind Ohtani.

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His 1.039 OPS also 2nd, along with his .623 SLG, and his .417 OBP ranks 4th.

And his most noteworthy accomplishment so far in 2024 might just be the fact he leads the major leagues in homers with 15, alongside Baltimore Orioles young star shortstop Gunnar Henderson.

And Tucker’s elite status around the upper portions of major league leaderboards is not only isolated to 2024, he has been a force at the dish for years.


Tucker has been one of the major league’s best hitters from 2022 to up until now. The 2023 Silver Slugger Award winner has been proving he can hang with some of the league’s most decorated and marketable stars, and finds himself ranked ahead of some of them in numerous categories.

In this timespan Tucker has mingled with the league’s heaviest hitters by displaying great power and solid contact. He ranks ninth among all qualified hitters in SLG with .514, ahead of household names like 2x MVP Bryce Harper (12th), 2x World Series MVP Corey Seager (10th), reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. (17th), 4x Silver Slugger Juan Soto (16th), and 2022 NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt (21st), among others.

But Tucker is much more than simply a hard-hitting player. He has demonstrated a top-notch all-around approach at the plate.

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Tucker ranks ninth from 2022-2024 in wRC+, posting a 143, which once again places him ahead of players such as Harper (T10th), Acuna Jr. (T10th), Seager (18th), as well as Julio Rodriguez (24th) and Manny Machado (26th).

He also ranks eighth since the start of 2022 in Fangraphs’ offensive rating boasting a 81.2, once again besting the likes decorated stars like Goldschmidt (10th), Harper (15th) and Rodriguez (17th).

And maybe the most impressive stat for Tucker is the fact he’s been one of the most valuable players in the league since Opening Day 2022 according to fWAR, accumulating a sixth-best total of 12.8, which is better than Soto (8th), Rodriguez (12th), and maybe most noticeably his current teammate Altuve (8th).

Tucker is ranked as the not only one of the league’s best hitter, but arguably the best Houston Astro.

Among his star teammates, from 2022-2024, Tucker holds his own, sitting first in fWAR ahead of Altuve by 0.3, Alvarez by 1.6 and Bregman by 2.2.

Now Altuve and Alvarez have had their remarkable seasons in this time frame, especially 2022, where they finished 5th and 3rd respectively in AL MVP voting.

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But the interesting storyline here is Tucker’s comparison to Bregman, the seemingly third star in the Astros supposed trio.

In every major statistical category from 2022-2024, Tucker ranks ahead of Bregman, which essentially breaks the “big three” narrative that has been built during this dynasty.

Kyle Tucker.273.360.514.8747425214312.8
Alex Bregman.256.356.435.7915221012510.6
Kyle Tucker vs. Alex Bregman 2022-2024

Not to mention Tucker’s fifth-place finish in AL MVP voting makes Bregman the odd man out between him, Tucker, Altuve and Alvarez in Top 5 MVP finishes in the last two voting cycles.

And yet, looking at this year specifically, the focus has seemingly been more around Bregman’s struggles at the plate, with a .225/.293/.355 slash line, or whether or not he could be a trade chip at the deadline, and less on the fact that Tucker is on a MVP-caliber pace.

2021 Season

The 2021 season might of been the year that Tucker received the ultimate disrespect of his career, his finish in the 2021 AL MVP voting.

Tucker came into his own in 2021 and really broke onto the scene posting a career-best 5.0 fWAR. This was good for a tie for 18th in the league that year, with Shohei Ohtani and Matt Olson, and finishing ahead of notable names like Goldschmidt, Machado, along with Freddie Freeman and Nolan Arenado.

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Obviously being tied in offensive fWAR with Ohtani doesn’t mean a lot considering that Ohtani is contributing at an elite level at the plate and on the mound, but the comparison between fellow 5.0 fWAR member Olson that season is interesting.

While Olson can be argued to be the more powerful hitter that year between him and Tucker, having hit nine more homeruns, Tucker had Olson beat in the slugging department, having posted a SLG% 17 points higher.

Olson could have also been considered to have the more patient approach than Tucker in 2021 posting an OBP 11 points higher than him and a walk-rate 3.8% percent higher than Astros outfielder.

But Tucker made up for that with a higher batting average, OPS, BABIP and a lower strikeout rate.

The bottom line here is that both had their strengths but an identical 5.0 fWAR shows that the AL MVP voting should have been close between the two.

This was not the case.

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Matt Olson finished eighth in voting, while Tucker finished with a single vote which tied him for 20th.

Kyle TuckerT20 (1.0)3092.294.359.557.916.30415.9%9.3%5.0
Matt Olson8 (90.0)39111.271.371.540.911.26916.8%13.1%5.0
2021 Comparison between Kyle Tucker and Matt Olson

Including Olson, and excluding Ohtani, Tucker would find himself finishing below eight other hitters who finished with a fWAR equal or lower than him including Salvador Perez, Rafael Devers, Jose Abreu, Bo Bichette and Xander Bogaerts.

And what displays this underappreciation even further is who he was tied for 20th with, that also only received a single vote of consideration for MVP. These names were Mitch Haniger, Austin Meadows and Mike Zunino, all of whom Tucker was an objectively better hitter than.

Kyle Tucker.294.359.557.9175.0
Mitch Haniger.253.318.485.8032.2
Austin Meadows.234.315.458.7731.5
Mike Zunino.216.301.559.8604.1
The four players tied for 20th in 2021 AL MVP voting

Tucker is More Than Just an Elite Hitter

Tucker might be one of the most well-rounded players in the game today. While his hitting certainly contributes to the strong fWAR totals he’s posted, his speed on the basepaths is another key factor to this.

In 2023 Tucker just narrowly missed an impressive feat of power and speed, the 30-30 season. He was a single home run shy of the accomplishment having hit 29 homers to along with his 30 stolen bases. The only players to accomplish this last season were Ronald Acuna Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr. and Francisco Lindor.

And from that 2022-2024 timespan, Tucker has showcased his plus speed, posting the sixth-highest stolen base totals in the league with 62.

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He is also puts that speed and agility to use in the outfield, having a Gold Glove under his belt from 2022.

And since the start of 2022, Tucker has accumulated 18 defensive runs saved, good for a tie for seventh in the league among outfielders, and a tie for 16th among any position player.

And with the ninth-best total among major league outfielders in assists, with 20, he has certainly made the case of being considered a legitimate five-tool player.

Tucker is simply one of the most “tooled-out” players in the game today.

Tucker Desperately Needs a Raise

At just 27 years of age, Tucker is currently in his second-to-last year of arbitration before he becomes an unrestricted free-agent following the 2025 season.

This year he is only making $12 million, after settling with Houston this past offseason to avoid arbitration. Last season he only made $5 million after losing his arbitration hearing.

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For context, and to re-introduce the comparison between the two, Bregman gets paid $30.5 million by the Astros this season. As mentioned earlier, Tucker has been the superior hitter to Bregman in nearly every category, but is still going through the year-to-year arbitration process.

Altuve is getting paid $31.5 million this season, with a brand new five-year $125 million extension set to kick in 2025. Remember, since the beginning of 2022 Tucker ranks 0.3 fWAR ahead of Altuve.

And while Alvarez is only getting paid roughly $10.83 million this year, he’s currently in the second season of a six-year $115 million contract, that escalates every year until he will eventually be paid around $28.83 million each year from 2026 through 2028. Again, Tucker ranks 1.6 fWAR ahead of Alvarez since the start of 2022.

With Bregman becoming a UFA at the end of 2024, there hopefully will be an opportunity for the Astros allocate payroll towards an extension for Tucker.

But seeing so many massive contracts for young talents like Julio Rodriguez’s 11-year $209.3 million deal with Seattle, or Bobby Witt Jr.’s, 11-year, $288.77 million contract with Kansas City, it makes one think, why haven’t the Astros ponied up for one of the league’s most proven players?

What Can Tucker Do to Gain More Appreciation?

Tucker’s underappreciation is one of the bigger mysteries in baseball.

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He’s constantly surrounded by recognizable household names on the leaderboards. And he’s had the benefit of playing under the primetime lights for one of the greatest teams of this generation.

Having stars like Altuve, Alvarez and Bregman, along with high profile pitchers like Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez in the same clubhouse, has definitely cut into Tucker’s shine. But again, his numbers say he’s just as good if not better than these guys.

The Astros dreadful start to 2024 certainly didn’t help his case for more notoriety, as many people have looked for what has gone wrong with the team as opposed to what aspects have worked, like Tucker.

But after play on Sunday the Astros are 8-2 in their last 10 and continue to climb the American League standings, seemingly righting the ship. So if the turnaround continues, more eyes will be on what’s been the cause for the success, which could mean Tucker’s steady force at the dish in 2024 will get more recognition.

At a 3.0 fWAR through 46 games and 205 plate appearances, Tucker is on pace to crush his career-best totals.

Tucker can only control what he does on the field and not how he’s perceived by those watching. And as the stats have proved, he’s done his part by posting elite level numbers up to this point in his career.

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So with the torrid pace Tucker is on to start 2024, one surely has to think that more eyes will finally turn towards him, giving him his overdue time in the spotlight.

Only time will tell though.