The top 10 can't-miss concerts at RodeoHouston 2019

No. 2 Cardi B - Friday, March 1 Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Johnston Farrow.

Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, and even LL Cool J.

RodeoHouston is the definitive annual concert event in the Bayou City. Anyone who is anyone in the world of country and pop music played the rotating center stage over the years. This year's line-up is stacked with the most diverse artists assembled in the history of the event, covering pop, rock, classic rock, Latin, EDM, and of course, country.

The following are the top 10 shows CultureMap is most excited to see during the 2019 edition.

Brooks & Dunn - Wednesday, February 27
The high-selling country duo hasn't performed a lot together over the last decade and it's been awhile since their "Boot Scootin' Boogie" heyday in the '90s, all of which makes this appearance special. Their last album of original music was the 2008 collection, Cowboy Town, but after their career of 20 No. 1 country hits, who can blame them for taking it easy. That said, this one will draw a huge amount of fans that grew up on their music, hungry to sing along to the countless hits this talented pair produced over the last 30 years.

Chris Stapleton - Thursday, March 14
The Nashville star Chris Stapleton makes his third straight appearance at RodeoHouston and while he hasn't put out anything since 2017's Room with a View, Vol. 2 in 2017, he remains one of country music's best performers. Very few acts at the event this year encapsulate country values better than the full-voiced Stapleton, whose music incorporates the wood and wires sound and classic gritty storytelling of old school C&W classics.

Kings of Leon - Tuesday, March 12
There's no denying Kings of Leon's staying power. While this booking would have made a bigger splash five years ago, the Nashville band of three Followill brothers and their cousin are more than established as a rock music powerhouse, having headlined the biggest festivals this country offers. The band's humble beginnings as a Lynyrd Skynyrd-meets-The Strokes soon gave way to a much larger mainstream sound that found major radio play with singles, "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody." And if you're wondering if they are big enough to play center stage, the group opened for U2 after the release of their first album, so they know how to fill big spaces.

Panic! at the Disco - Sunday, March 3
Emo kids, rejoice! RodeoHouston finally recognizes you as a viable moneymaker! Yes, we say that in jest, but if there is any act to come out of the early-2000s emo-rock movement, Las Vegas band Panic! at the Discodeserves to be in the spotlight. Led by the talented Brendon Urie, Panic! comes in hot on the heels of a huge tour behind the release of No. 1 album, Pray for the Wicked, a critically acclaimed jaunt that filled international arenas, showing that the band has the skills to play to the rafters. If there is a dark horse for best show at RodeoHouston this year, this is it.

Brad Paisley - Saturday, March 16
Brad Paisley makes his sixth consecutive appearance and 13th overall RodeoHouston appearance, largely because he remains one of the biggest country artists in the game right now. He continues to sell out arenas wherever he plays and while the only thing new he released since his 2017 album, Love and War, is his new single "Bucked Off," he's stayed relevant through the many Nationwide insurance commercials, playing the straight-man foil to former NFL MVP Peyton Manning's comedic persona.

Zedd - Friday, March 8
In 2017, RodeoHouston entertainment director Jason Kane experimented with bringing an EDM act, The Chainsmokers, to RodeoHouston. While it could have gone awry, the performance was an overall success, attracting a once hard to crack demographic - the youth. That experiment continues with the Grammy Award-winning Russian-German producer/DJ, Zedd, who worked with some big names in pop music, including Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and former RodeoHouston performer Alessia Cara. Will Zedd make the Rodeo rave again? We'll definitely be there to find out. Bring your glowsticks!

Continue reading on CultureMap to see the rest of the performers.

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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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