WWE Wrap-Up

Live from Houston, Raw lives up to the hype

Roman Reigns achieved a wrestling grand slam with his Intercontinental Championship win. Photo by WWE.com

This was the WWE’s third night in Houston and, boy, did the post PPV Raw deliver.

Stephanie McMahon opened the show congratulating Raw for winning the most matches at Survivor Series. She proceeded to invite her husband, Triple H, to the ring. Before he could even speak, an angry Kurt Angle raced to the ring to confront him for attacking him at Survivor Series. Kurt’s son, Jason Jordan, came out to ask his father to let him have a match against Triple H. Stephanie explained that Angle was not authorized to make that match, even though her husband is not scared of anyone on the roster. That, of course, prompted Braun Strowman to come to the ring. Triple H backed away, and McMahon explained to Jordan and Strowman that they would be facing each other later that night. “You’re a coward” chants serenaded Triple H as he made his way backstage. Samoa Joe and Finn Balor lit a fire under the Houston crowd. Balor did all he could to stay in the match, including escaping a Coquina Clutch. Joe caught Balor as he was making his way to the top rope and placed him in a second Coquina Clutch to win the match. Asuka made Dana Brooke pay for her cheap shot on last week’s Raw. Throughout the match, Asuka mocked Brooke and hit her with stiff kicks and chops. She knocked her lights out with a stiff kick to win the match.

The Miz shared a great Miz TV segment with The Shield. The crowd got really involved with this segment, making it even more entertaining. “Miz is awesome” chants filled the arena. Seth Rollins mentioned they’ve traveled around the world, and Houston was the first place ever where they heard that chant. The segment closed with Reigns issuing a challenge to Miz for his Intercontinental Championship. Dean Ambrose defeated Sheamus despite Cesaro’s efforts to spoil the match for Ambrose. Alexa Bliss came to the ring to express her displeasure for the fans who insulted her after her loss to Charlotte. Mickie James, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Alicia Fox faced off in a Fatal Four Way to determine Bliss’ next opponent. A surprise return a year in the making occurred when Paige showed up. She didn’t come alone, though. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, formerly of NXT, joined Paige in spoiling the match.

Braun Strowman’s match with Jason Jordan was short-lived thanks to a brutal attack from Kane. The Big Red Machine used a chair and steel steps to jam Strowman’s throat. The team of Rich Swann, Tozawa, Cedric Alexander, and Mustafa Ali defeated Davari, Drew Gulak, Noam Dar, and Tony Neese.  Elias Samson’s “concert” was cut short by Matt Hardy who forced The Drifter to coward away from the ring. The Miz defended his Intercontinental Championship against Roman Reigns in the main event. Reigns was in control of the match until The Bar got involved. Ambrose and Rollins raced to the ring to even out the playing field. One spear later, Reigns sealed the Intercontinental Championship win. This meant Reigns collected his fourth championship, a wrestling grand slam.  After the show went off-air, The Shield sent fans home happy by Triple Powerbombing The Miz through the announcer table.

Highlight of the night:

Paige’s return has been speculated for weeks now.  The way it was done, though, was a genuine surprise. She’s had very weird year, and it is great to see her back in the WWE.


WWE’s third straight night in the Toyota Center was a great one. The involvement of the crowd blew me away. Surprises like Paige’s return, or Reigns achieving a Grand Slam, helped this post pay-per-view Raw live up to the hype. The ball is in SmackDown Live’s court to do the same thing later tonight in the WWE’s final night in town.

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Tucker looks like the real deal. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Kyle Tucker finally had his breakout season in 2020. The 23-year-old flashed potential to be a legitimate five-tool threat. He slashed .268/.325/.512, swiped eight bags, and played above average defense. Is Tucker's performance sustainable? Not only that, but is there room for growth?

Hard Hit % - 44.5%

Barrel % - 9.1%

K % - 20.2%

BB % - 7.9%
Chase % - 26.2%

The first thing to realize with Kyle Tucker is the small sample size at the MLB level. Despite appearing in three separate seasons, he's played in a total of 108 games, which is obviously quite a bit shy of even one full season. He also has an extremely unique swing that you wouldn't teach to anybody, but it "works" for him. This makes him a tough hitter to judge, as it's uncomfortable judging mechanics that work for him, and it's uncomfortable judging numbers that haven't had time to develop trends.

Hard Hit, Barrel, and Chase numbers are unavailable for the minors, but walk and strikeouts percentages are. This creates the ability to at least look at one trend.

Tucker broke onto the scene in 2018 with a monstrous season for AAA Fresno, the Astros affiliate at the time. In 2018, Tucker slashed .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers and 20 steals. He had an 18.1% K% and a 10.3% BB% that season. In 2019, Tucker struck out a little bit more (21.6%) but also walked a little bit more (11.2%). Tucker's 20.2% K% in 2020 is more in line with his minor league K%, indicating he's adjusted to major league pitching.

Tucker essentially put the pieces of contact ability and quality of contact from his previous MLB stints together in 2020. In 2018, Tucker didn't strike out very much (18.1% K%), but his 3.9% Barrel % didn't strike fear in any opponent.

In 2019, Tucker had a 12.8% Barrel %, and his 92 MPH average exit velocity is the best of his three seasons in MLB, but he struck out 27.8% of the time and walked just 5.6% of the time.

In 2020, there's a marriage between the two. His K% and BB% aren't as good as his 2018 marks, but they're better than his 2019 marks. His exit velocity and Barrel % aren't as good as his 2019 marks, but they're better than his 2018 marks. Tucker became a hitter that was able to do more damage without sacrificing consistency.

Tucker had a xBA of .267, which is right in line with his .268 average. His .459 xSLG lags behind his .512 actual SLG, but it isn't a catastrophic drop. The version of Tucker Astros fans saw is essentially who he is, but how does he improve?

What really unlocked Tucker in 2020 was a change in his setup.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Here he is on August 2nd against the Angels. As you can see, he's standing pretty straight up, and he has a "neutral" stance. Following the game on Aug. 2, Tucker was batting .200/.250/.300 with no homers.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Here's Tucker on August 6th, just a few days later. He's started to close off his stance just a bit, but he's still pretty neutral, and he has a little more forward body lean with his torso. Following the game on Aug. 6, he was batting .214/.267/.357 with a homer.

Image via: GraysonSkweres/Twitter/Screenshot

Now, here's Tucker on August 10th. His stance is considerably closed off, and he's maintaining the forward body lean he adopted on August 6th. Following the game on Aug. 10, Tucker was batting .190/.230/.328. It would be the last time any of those numbers would be that low the rest of the year. He maintained that stance for the rest of the season, and he finished the month of August hitting .272/.333/.588.

The swing change allowed him to be a factor on the outside pitch. Tucker would pull off on his front side, which made it tough for him to keep balls fair on the pull side. He'd often yank inside fastballs into the stands down the right field line. It also made him uncompetitive on outside strikes, as he'd either swing-and-miss, or roll them over into the shift.

After he made the change, Tucker started steering inside pitches fair, and he was able to do something with pitches on the outer third.

The next step is finding a way to continue to diversify his batted ball profile. Tucker's pull percentage in 2020 was 47%. That's a higher pull % than guys like Kyle Schwarber and Matt Olson. It was only 1% lower than Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo.

The one dimensional batted ball profile allows teams to shift Tucker aggressively. Teams shifted Tucker in 74% of his at-bats. His wOBA against the shift is .304. In AB's where teams didn't shift him, Tucker had a .455 wOBA. The shift hurts Tucker more than most as well, because he hits the ball on the ground 39% of the time. Gallo and Olson hit it on the ground 32% and 35% of the time respectively.

Lastly, Tucker's performance on breaking balls leaves a lot to be desired. He crushes fastballs, as he batted .303 with a .574 SLG against fastballs in 2020, with a .292 xBA and .528 xSLG. His .208 AVG and .396 SLG against breaking balls aren't very good, and his .209 xBA and .340 xSLG don't tell a prettier story. His 32% whiff % against breaking balls is nearly double his whiff % on fastballs.

If Tucker can learn to be more competitive against breaking balls and learn to use the whole field, then he'll be a really scary hitter. If he doesn't, teams will be able to gameplan for him, and he'll see streaky production similar to other one dimensional hitters like Matt Carpenter and the aforementioned Gallo and Olson.

While the bat may be streaky, Tucker brings it with the glove and on the bases. He had 5 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in the outfield in 2020, a 0.6 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), and he was plus-4 in Outs Above Average. His well above average speed and instincts give him the ability to be a rangy outfielder and dangerous baserunner.

Tucker had a breakout season in 2020, but there's still changes left to be made if he wants to be a breakout star and not a one hit wonder.

This is part four of an offseason series covering the 2020 Houston Astros. Be sure to check out parts 1-3 on SportsMap.

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