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Astros’ All-Star Outfielder Is Poised to Bat Cleanup

Houston Astros manager Joe Espada said Sunday that his ideal lineup has Kyle Tucker hitting cleanup, Chandler Rome of The Athletic reports. The outfielder has usually found himself in the fifth or sixth spot in the Astros lineup. However, he has spent time between Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots last season. Tucker is one of the most consistent offensive producers in baseball, hitting .284 with 29 home runs, 112 RBI, 97 runs and 30 steals in 2023.

He’s expected to have another big year while batting behind José Altuve, Yordan Álvarez and Alex Bregman.

Kyle Tucker Likely to Bat In Fourth Spot of the Lineup

Tucker finished fifth in American League MVP voting. He was named the Astros’ MVP by the Houston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He also won his first Silver Slugger Award. Tucker, who was one home run shy of a 30-30 season, said his focus this year is on being more consistent.

“The year is long and there’s a lot of games, but you’ve got to stay on top of it,” he said. “At times, you can get tired from playing however many games in a row, but that’s our job to go out there and perform. I try and do my best to make it a consistent process every single day.”

Tucker’s Numbers Hitting Cleanup

The right fielder spent 43 games batting fourth for the Astros. He slashed .301/.386/.503 with a .889 OPS with seven home runs, 30 RBI and 49 hits. However, when he has batted third, the numbers are somewhat similar, slashing .298/.376/.563 with 13 home runs, 47 RBI and 62 hits in 56 games. Either way, Tucker will not disappoint at the plate as he is very comfortable hitting in those spots. Plus, with three other All-Stars ahead of him, it makes for a great top-four lineup in baseball.

Another Extension Candidate?

Tucker has established himself as one of the better all-around contributors in baseball. He’s hit 89 home runs and swiped 69 bases over the past three seasons. His .278/.353/.517 batting in that frame has led to a 138 wRC+, 16th among qualified batters. Astros general manager Dana Brown has his desire to sign extensions with the club’s players since being hired on for the role last year. Houston has locked up Cristian Javier to a five-year, $64 million deal. Most recently, Altuve inked a five-year, $125 million extension. There’s still time for Tucker to get something done with the club. He’s under club control until the end of the 2025 season.

Astros In Uncharted Waters

Houston’s finances list their highest Opening Day payroll at $188 million in 2021. This year, it has them up to $240 million. Their competitive tax balance figure is also high, sitting at $255 million which is beyond the base threshold of $237 million. Going forward, there’s room to extend Tucker. But they already have over $100 million through 2025 to 2027 with contracts from Altuve, Javier, Álvarez and Josh Hader.

Next year’s budget will hit $117 and arbitration cases to Tucker and Framber Valdez might cost $40 million to that. The next two years will see players like Tucker, Bregman and Justin Verlander reach the end of their contracts.

Main Photo: © Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports


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