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Three Pack: Cole Tucker

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to “The Three Pack”, a weekly feature in which I’ll give you three quick thoughts on anything and everything related to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In “The Three Pack”, my goal is to give you three quick, concise discussion points on your Pittsburgh Pirates. Sometimes, this might take a larger scope; Other times it might be more player-specific, as it is today with a quick look at Cole Tucker’s time in the bigs thus far.


Trouble on Fastballs

Tucker has a 41.6 percent whiff rate on fastballs across his 33 PAs to date. That’s not entirely unexpected. After all, it will take some time for him to get his timing adjusted to major league pitching. But there is a trend starting to develop wherein Tucker has trouble with high heat, specifically:

For now, let’s call it something to keep an eye on. If Tucker can close this hole quickly enough, he should have no problem getting more pitches to drive.

Splitting Time Between the Two Children Equally

Right before his callup, I talked to Tucker for my podcast, The Buccocast. In case you missed it, here’s the episode:

In the interview, Tucker described being a switcher hitter as being “like having two kids.”

So far, Tucker has split time with his “kids” pretty evenly:

vs. LHP as RHB: 16 PAs - .200/.250/.400
vs. RHP as LHB: 17 PAs - .250/.294/.438

This is happenstance of course, but if history is any indication as to the performance in those splits, this is a bit of a reversal from his minor league splits. If we limit our look to his last full season (that being 2018 where he spent the entire year in Altoona), we see the following splits:

vs. LHP as RHB: 124 PAs - .311/.398/.388
vs. RHP as LHB: 465 PAs - .246/.315/.348

Again, small sample size is at play here, and it’s entirely possible that his 2019 MLB splits will inch closer to resembling his 2018 AA marks. For good measure, here are the same splits for the time he spent at Indianapolis this year before getting the call:

vs. LHP as RHB: 64 PAs - .305/.359/.508
vs. RHP as LHB: 35 PAs - .276/.382/.552

Did Tucker figure something out vs. left handed hitters? Time will tell.

Being Aggressive

Tucker has been anything but timid, with a swing rate of 48.6 percent thus far, a tick above the MLB-wide rate of 46.4.

If you subscribe to the theory that each and every string of a young prospects’ MLB career is instructive — as I do — this is encouraging to see. The flip side shows a chase rate of 32.9 percent, above MLB’s water level of 28.1. Chasing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, should you chase at the right pitches. Tucker’s chase contact rate is currently 47.8 percent against MLB’s 60 percent even.

69 major league shortstops have made contact on pitches outside of the zone this year. 28 of them have wOBAs of .300 or better on those pitches. As Tucker sees more stuff outside of the zone, there is a chance that he could join that group.