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Tampa’s Kyle Tucker ‘has it all’ for playoff-bound Astros

The Plant High product is one RBI away from 100 in just his third full major-league season.
The Astros' Kyle Tucker gets a beer shower after Houston clinches the American League West title after beating the Rays on Monday night.
The Astros' Kyle Tucker gets a beer shower after Houston clinches the American League West title after beating the Rays on Monday night. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Sep. 20

ST. PETERSBURG — Ordinarily, fans won’t notice a smile on the face of Astros rightfielder Kyle Tucker. Not that he’s unhappy. He’s just focused on his craft.

Monday night, though, there was plenty to celebrate. The good times rolled at Tropicana Field as Tucker’s 97-win Astros defeated the Rays 4-0 at Tropicana Field and clinched the American League West Division title.

“This never gets old,” said Tucker as he momentarily escaped the beer-spraying jubilation and ducked behind the plastic covering that protected his locker in the visiting clubhouse. “It’s what you play for and we have such a good team so that it makes it more special.”

Tucker, 25, later emerged to take photographs on the field with his parents, Mike and Lisa, along with other family members.

“It’s pretty phenomenal that we clinched in my hometown,” Tucker said. “But we’re not done yet. We have the team that can do a lot more.”

Tucker, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft out of Plant High School, has been a major contributor with a .261 batting average, 28 home runs, 99 RBIs, a team-leading 22 stolen bases and sterling defense in just his third full major-league season.

“He’s an incredible athlete and he’s just getting started,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. “He has a high, high ceiling. With the kind of guy he is, with how hard he works, it’s scary to think how good he can be. He’s already a great one.”

The term “five-tool player” gets tossed around so much it has become a cliche. With Tucker, though, it applies.

Kyle Tucker (30) and Ryne Stanek (45) celebrate after clinching the AL West title.
Kyle Tucker (30) and Ryne Stanek (45) celebrate after clinching the AL West title. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

“It’s a rare thing in the game these days to find a player who does everything well,” Astros general manager James Click said. “Kyle hits for average. He hits for power. He steals bases. He plays great defense. And he throws guys out. I’m not a scout, but I’m pretty sure that’s what we look for.”

After being a Gold Glove finalist last season, Tucker is a prime candidate to win the award. In July, he was selected to his first American League All-Star Game. With two more homers, another RBI and three more stolen bases, he will be in rarefied air: 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 25 steals.

“He does so much well that you sort of take his defense for granted,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Kyle Tucker has it all. He is getting it together at a very young age. If he stays healthy, attention is going to naturally come his way because of his production and his maturity as a player.”

“Man, I’m an ultra-fan of Kyle Tucker,” said Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., the Jesuit High product. “I don’t think he gets the national love and praise, but he does so many things that go under the radar. You have to see him every day to appreciate his attention to detail in rightfield, how he gets to balls and the routes he takes. He always had the bat growing up, but now he’s a complete player, an awesome player.”

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Tucker just shrugged when asked if he felt he hadn’t received the proper national attention. That’s in keeping with his low-key approach.

“The thing I learned from being around Kyle was how he approached the grind of a 162-game season and how he never was fazed when he failed,” said Rays reliever Brooks Raley, a former Astro. “He shows up every day and never has any lows. He’s comfortable in his own skin and never seems overwhelmed by any moment. He looked like a 10-year big-leaguer — at least — from the minute he showed up, just because of how he carried himself.”

Monday night, the ever-stoic Tucker allowed himself a few smiles. Well-deserved. From the looks of things, there will be many more to come.

Tampa’s RBI leaders

Kyle Tucker can become the ninth Tampa native player with a 100-RBI season in major-league baseball.

(Number of 100-RBI seasons, player/high school, best season and career RBIs)

8 Fred McGriff, Jefferson: 107 (1996), 1,550

8 Gary Sheffield, Hillsborough: 132 (2003), 1,676

6 Tino Martinez, Jefferson: 141 (1997), 1,271

5 Steve Garvey, Chamberlain: 115 (1977), 1,308

5 Luis Gonzalez, Jefferson: 142 (2000), 1,439

2 Pete Alonso, Plant: 120 (2019), 367

2 Derek Bell, King: 113 (1996), 668

2 Carl Everett, Hillsborough: 108 (1999, 2000), 792

1 Kyle Tucker, Plant: 99 (2022), 248*

*If he gets there

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