The 2021 MLB regular season is complete, and awards voters were required to submit their ballots prior to the beginning of postseason play on Tuesday.
Many of the major award races have clear winners, and the AL MVP race is one of them.
However, there’s one player in the AL MVP chase who might get some unexpected votes.
This player realistically has no chance at winning the award, but fans shouldn’t be surprised if he pops up on some ballots.
We’re talking about Kyle Tucker.
Tucker put together an outstanding 2021 regular season for the Houston Astros, and there’s no telling whether or not the team would have won the AL West without him.
Let’s take a look at the regular season he had.
The 2021 Regular Season Was Tucker’s First Full Year At The MLB Level, And He Impressed
Tucker is just 24 years old.
He exceeded rookie limits in the 2019 season, but prior to the 2021 campaign, he had never played in more than 58 games in a year.
We finally got a full look at him in the 2021 regular season, and it was worth the wait.
The youngster slashed .294/.359/.557 over 140 games.
He posted a 147 OPS+ and 147 wRC+.
He homered 30 times, doubled 37 times, and tripled three times.
It’s crazy how underrated Tucker is.
Kyle Tucker is one of the most underrated players in the league right now pic.twitter.com/gIGCE7Rli2
— saucycatches (@saucycatches) September 16, 2021
The former first-round pick also posted a 5.7 WAR in 2021, and on that basis alone, he’s likely going to receive MVP votes.
Tucker Only Got Better As The Regular Season Went On
Tucker got progressively better as the 2021 regular season went on.
Take a look at where his OPS for the year stood at the conclusion of each month:
- End of April: .610
- End of May: .779
- End of June: .811
- End of July: .847
- End of August: .860
- End of September: .904
- End of Regular Season: .917
As you can see, his OPS got increasingly better as the season progressed.
That’s an outstanding accomplishment.
Moreover, over the final two months of the season, Tucker turned things up a notch.
From August 13 onward, he batted .356 with a whopping 1.108 OPS, nine home runs, 12 doubles, and two triples over 38 games.
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 4, 2021
Houston was able to keep an arm’s length away at all times from the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics in the division race, but it’s tough to say if that would have been the case without Tucker’s contributions.
Now that the regular season is over, it’s time for Tucker’s focus to shift to bigger things.
He’s clearly a rising star, and if he wants to establish himself as one of the game’s best young players, then the next step is to prove that he’s capable of performing in the playoffs.
We’ve actually already seen Tucker in the playoffs, both in the 2019 and 2020 postseasons.
So far, he’s a career .279 playoff hitter.
That’s a nice start, but he also has a mere .656 OPS in the playoffs.
That’s due in large part to the fact that he only has one extra-base-hit in 22 postseason games.
If Tucker can bring some power to the table in the 2021 playoffs, it’ll be a great sign.