NERDS AROUND TOWN

Nerds Around Town: DC Comics, bad movies and Rocket talk

ART BY JESUS RODRIGUEZ

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

Hey Nerds!

Monday is where all the magic happens, stay focused and get pumped, this is your week!

GOOD DEED OF THE DAY

This week we'll be honoring First Responders like my buddy Jon Stewart with The Branch Gives Back. A bike ride to benefit the first responders. #NerdsUnite

TROUBLE IN PARADISE?

DC Comics announced they were cancelling Vertigo, their creator friendly line where they got to take big risks with relatively unknown characters and also got some ownership with the characters they created for those stories. Overall it created a massive opportunity for award winning writers to spend time on characters they normally wouldn't be asked to write because honestly, it wouldn't be worth anyone's time or money. This line was responsible for some of the best comic books that DC had ever made and also several movies and TV shows such as Lucifer, Constantine and Doom Patrol. Combined with a recent announcement that DC comics wanted to publish fewer individual titles, suddenly DC Comics was making people nervous and some even thinking they were falling apart. This weekend they announced a massive expansion into the young adult graphic novel area. See Marvel basically owns comic sales monthly usually in both units and money in, and graphic novels too. But in the Young Adult market there is literally no one on the comic book side pushing content into that sector, there are book makers making comics which fans will tell you, aren't the same thing. This is a brilliant pivot for DC, to find an open area to grow revenue and develop more properties while avoiding Marvel. This is how you change a major company.

ROCKETS TALK

So if I'm Houston, I don't trade Chris Paul. Everyone is seeing all the stories and hearing the news about Harden and Paul not getting along and D'Antoni not wanting to re sign with the team potentially because of this issue. Here's the thing, Paul's contract first of all makes him essentially untradeable and honestly, he's an amazing asset to the team. I think Harden's offensive run over the last few years has been amazing, but the truth isn't that complicated, it's not enough. Just like Westbrook's run of triple double seasons wasn't enough to get OKC into a conference finals, Harden alone isn't enough. With this season opening up like it has, it seems like the smartest move is to take one more run at it, just go as hard as possible at it this year. Portland is probably the strongest team in the west this season that isn't named Houston and it's between us and them until either LA team makes a move of some kind. SO I say ride this out one more year and then see where you stand.

MOVIE STARS

So one time in an interview Tom Cruise said that he only has so many movies he can make before he's not capable of making movies anymore so he needed to be selective in the movies he makes. It's a wise way to evaluate films and it's an even smarter way to do business. That being said, how do so many good movie stars make awful movies? Liam Hemsworth is in a ton of bad movies, Chris Hemsworth keeps taking bad role after bad role and they aren't alone. I have no idea who looks these things over, or who tells them yes or no or if they have to do these movies for different reasons, BUT, lots of bad movies. Who gives these people advice?!

NOT THAT YOU ASKED

You know what I love about summer, getting in a pool. So seriously, invite me to your pool parties. All of them. If I'm available I will go to all of your pool parties at the drop of the hat, this is not a drill or a joke. Pool parties all day long.

Feel free to check out my digital short story The Wilson House or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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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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