Remembering Michael Tucker

After another dismal performance, let us remember happier times, with a post from the archives. -RR

 

In honor of Election Night in Canada, let us take a look back at the Royal career of Michael Tucker, who patrolled the outfield in blue and white for a magical four seasons (95-96, 02-03). Thanks to that tenure, Tucker garnered 1380 at-bats as a Royal, 38th most in team history, and two ahead of Rey Sanchez.

Tucker bravely played through the SARS scare of 2002.

Tucker was the Royals' #1 pick in 1992, 10th overall out of Longwood College in Virginia. Only three years later, Tucker debuted with the '95 Royals, playing in 62 games as a rookie. As a rookie, Tucker posted a respectable but weak .260/.332/.384 line in 177 at bats. A true Royal, Tucker successfully stole 2 bases in 5 attempts, along with 4 homers, 17 RsBI and 10 doubles. In 1996 Tucker moved into a regular role, tying the immortal Bip Roberts for 8th in team ABs. In 1996, Tucker hit a disapointing .260/.346/.446, hardly better than his rookie campaign, yet somehow good enough to earn a chance to earn over 250 outs. The one small improvement was in Tucker's power numbers, as he inched towards respectability with 18 doubles and 12 homers -- good for 3rd best on the team -- and 195th in baseball (ok, I made that up).

On March 27, 1997, Tucker and Keith Lockhart were traded to Atlanta for Jamie Walker and Jermaine Dye. Without a doubt, it was one of the finer Royal Front Office moments of the 1990s, as Dye blossomed into a borderline elite-level player. Tucker continued his .260/.330/.450 level of production throughout the rest of the decade, including two seasons in Atlanta and another two in Cincinatti. With the 2000 Reds, Tucker enjoyed perhaps his career year, hitting .267/.381/.511 with 15 homers in part-time duty. Traded to the Cubs during the 2001 season, Tucker was traded back to the Royals in December of 2001, the Royals taking on $2.2 million salary.

And how happy we are that they did!!

Tucker responded with a horrible performance, generating little to no power out of a corner OF spot, hitting .248/.330/.406 in 144 games. As you'll happily remember however, this was better than the newly signed Chuck Knoblauch could manage... and, well, I guess 12 homers is 12 homers. And, Tucker's long rumored speed game emerged, with 23 steals, good for 9th in the AL.

In 2003, although we couldn't know it at the time, Tucker's second tour of duty was coming to an end. With an acute sense of dramatic heroism, Tucker responded with gamely adequate play, hitting .262/.331/.440 with 13 homers. As the '03 team scratched its way to 83 wins, Tucker's performance seemed better than that, as a each at bat actually held meaning. However, Tucker -- long reckless -- was becoming a liability on the basepaths, stealing 8 bases in 18 attempts... which, umm, isn't very helpful. Tucker's 13 homers tied him with Ken Harvey for 7th on the team, and his 55 RsBI was only four behind Desi Relaford in his career year. Desi Relaford, people.

Being 33, an established veteran, and not very good, it was inevitable that the Giants would pursue Tucker, and they did. Despite not being spectacular, or even a positive influence on a team's offense very often, Tucker has been insanely consistent. Check out his yearly homer totals:

1996: 12

1997: 14

1998: 13

1999: 11

2000: 15

2001: 12

2002: 12

2003: 13

2004: 13

2005: 5

That would be even cooler if he was a catcher, could hit even .280, or could steal bases at a better than 50% clip regularly. Still, well, he was there, and in his four years he left an indelible mark on Royals' history. Last season, as the Giants battled the Tribe on June 12th, fans stood and cheered as Tucker collected his 1,00oth hit.

Tucker currently sits at 29th on the immortal Royals' HR list, with 41, just behind Hammerin' Hamelin and Dean Palmer. Watch out for Angel Berroa, who lurks at 36, and Matt Stairs at 31. With 204 runs scored, Tucker is 35th on the all-time list, one run ahead of Tom Goodwin and five runs behind the legendary Raul Ibanez. With 15 triples, Tucker is 28th all-time, one triple ahead of a guy named Bo Jackson. (Never heard of him.) Finally, Tucker is 27th all-time, with 43 steals... hey hey 43 steals, 41 HRs... quite the power/speed combo. Tucker has made over $14 million dollars in baseball.

We'll always have the memories from those four magical seasons, Mike.

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