In the midst of the wild success that the Houston Astros have experienced this season, the success of Alex Bregman has sort of fallen by the wayside. The bulk of that lack of attention is probably due to the slow start that he experienced to kick off the 2017 campaign, followed by an extremely lackluster month of June. But as the month of July nears its end, Bregman has experienced a rise in productivity and has emerged as an essential contributor as the likely favorites for the American League pennant.
Bregman’s overall numbers on the season aren’t exactly among the league’s elite third sackers. He ranks 17th out of 25 qualifying players at the position in WAR (1.5) and 13th among the same group in Off rating (5.1). But it’s certainly hard to frown on an output that features an on-base percentage of .350, a walk rate over 10%, and a wRC+ that paints him as a relatively well-above average offensive performer, with a 115 mark.
At the same time, while his numbers wouldn’t be deemed poor in really any regard, there isn’t a whole of of spectacular to go around in his overall production for the year. His slash features that .350 OBP, as well as a .267 batting average and .795 OPS. His ISO for the year comes in at .178, about 35 points lower than he turned in across 217 plate appearances in 2016. In relation to the average, the luck hasn’t quite been there, with a BABIP of only .298 for the year, but the fact that Bregman has been overlooked has more to do with the fact that the third base position is absolutely loaded with elite talent more than any shortcomings of his own.
Despite being overshadowed, Bregman has spent the last month excelling almost more so than almost all of his counterparts at the position. With the calendar about set to close for July, Bregman has been on a hot streak that has really driven up production and has those overall statistics looking quite a bit more favorable than they would’ve been otherwise. This month was especially essential for him coming off of a month of June where he hit just .215 with a wRC+ of 93.
In rebounding from that brutal month, Bregman has spent the last month tearing the cover off the ball. His Off rating (6.8) trails only Anthony Rendon and Travis Shaw over the last 30 days. His .329 average and .420 OBP over that span both rank fifth among the 30 players that qualified during that time. He struck out at a rate of only 13.6%, 21st lowest, while ranking at the 12th highest rate, at 12.5%. He’s upped the ISO, at .237 over the 30-day period, while making hard contact 34.4% of the time, which has certainly aided him in posting a BABIP over .370.
Despite being in such dire need of a rebound after that month of June, a lot of what Bregman’s done this year has been right in line with what was expected from him. He’s making contact at a rate of 84.7%, while whiffing only 6.6% of the time. Those each fall right in line with his production from the last 30 days, as he posted a Contact% of 84.8% and a whiff rate of 6.1%. Those both represent vast improvements from his time in the big leagues last year, and are each far more indicative of the skill set that he possesses, as a guy with high contact ability and high upside in the power game. He’s maintained a quality approach, with a 43.4% swing rate and 3.76 pitches per plate appearances. That’s a lot to like, even if he hasn’t quite broken out at the level that was expected.
Any disappointment really stems from a lack of productivity in the power game. Not that Bregman was expected to be some big behemoth in that respect, but something more around or above the .200 mark in the ISO department was probably to be expected. Instead, that figure has been relatively limited. Perhaps his recent stretch of offensive success will lead to a rise in that regard.
Overall, it’s hard not to be excited about the recent turnaround that Alex Bregman has showcased. His quality approach and high contact ability have proven to pay off in the past month more than the others, and his cumulative numbers for the season are better for it. One hopes that his recent hamstring injury isn’t the type that lingers and affects production moving forward. But with that current skill set and still developing power, the last month has renewed excitement that might have waned early on in relation to Alex Bregma.