The Argument Against Alex Bregman

Alex Bregman is a really good real-life baseball player who should continue to hit well. In 2019, his last full season, he banged out 41 home runs for us. In the following 580 plate appearance, though, he only has 18. This includes an injury-plagued 2021 that we can excuse, but it still begs the question:

Is Alex Bregman a 40-home-run hitter or a 25-home-run hitter?

This is crucial to answer before we plant our flag in one direction or the other. It’s important to take a stand on a guy who is in an average draft position range of his own among third basemen. On an island, so to speak.

Do we draft our third baseman earlier? Do we wait on Kris Bryant or even lower? Or do we confidently nab Bregman in that island between the 65th and 90th pick? Do we begrudgingly take him in that spot.

We should believe that his power is on the lower end because, well, it is.

Alex Bregman Statcast
Season EV LA Barrels Barrel% AVG xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA
2016 88.1 18.5 8 5.3% .264 .250 .478 .427 .336 .306
2017 87.6 16.4 16 3.4% .284 .267 .475 .426 .351 .330
2018 89.4 16.7 38 7.4% .286 .269 .532 .464 .396 .370
2019 89.3 19.6 22 4.6% .296 .260 .592 .446 .418 .369
2020 88.9 17.3 5 3.9% .242 .252 .451 .391 .345 .333
2021 89.0 15.9 19 6.4% .270 .262 .422 .421 .336 .335

As great as his 2019 was, it was pretty lucky. His barrel rate was very DJ LeMahieu levels of low, creating a huge disparity in his expected batting average (xBA), expected slugging percentage (xSLG), and expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) relative to his actual batting average (AVG), slugging percentage (SLG%), and weighted on-base average (wOBA):

  • A .036 drop from the AVG to xBA.
  • A whopping .146 drop from his SLG% to his xSLG.
  • And a huge .049 drop from his actual wOBA to his xwOBA.

We should be skeptical of Bregman’s power because there’s a lot of there there in the batted ball data. And I’m not just looking at his exit velocity (EV), as that’s a noisy data point on its own. It’s the combination of his EV with his launch angle (LA) that brings his career barrel rate all the down to 5.3%. Which is somewhere between Gio Urshela and Johan Camargo among third basemen.

It should be noted that Jose Ramirez has a 6.0% career barrel rate, but that doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Ramirez has had two straight seasons in double digits — 10.2% in 2020 and 11.1% in 2021. So the argument for Bregman finding a Ramirez trajectory doesn’t hold up because this is an extraordinary power boost.

The projections for Bregman are in line with the argument that his lack of raw power caps his ceiling: ZiPS has Bregman hitting 23 home runs in 2002; THE BAT X has 23; ATC has 25; and Steamer the most at 27.

Overall, Bregman is in the top-ten (if not top-eight) among third basemen. If you get him, you should be fine. We should be looking for more value in that round, though, when we can find it at the position.

In redraft leagues, Josh Donaldson just turned 36, but he’s coming off of a season with a pretty godly 17.4% barrel rate that was top-eight in MLB. The downside — of course — is his age, so we can only project him in the 130-to-140 range of games played. But we’re also getting him more than 100 picks later.

The guy who’s projecting very closely to Bregman is Kris Bryant. We don’t know where Bryant will be hitting his home runs in 2022, but he’ll be hitting them. He strikes out a healthy amount, so his numbers don’t eclipse Bregman, but we can wait for a round or two and get about double the barrel rate.

THE BAT X projects Bregman to have a .263/.362/.461 slash with those 23 home runs.

It projects Bryant to have a .261/.356/.463 slash with 23 home runs himself, continuing a career with a 9.7% barrel rate.

12, 15, or maybe 20 picks later, why not just grab Bryant?

In bestball, we should have exposure to Bregman around the frequency at which we can project that he has a boom like Ramirez; I’m not saying to fade him. In dynasty leagues, I’m looking to sell as soon as he has a hot streak to someone salivating at a return to 2019 production. In auctions, I wanna nominate him early, while people have the money to engage in an undue bidding war to, then, overpay for him. If snake draft leagues, I’m either drafting up at the position, waiting for Bryant, or gambling down on a pairing of Donaldson with an Anthony Rendon that will bring me a high ceiling for a low cost.

Alex Sonty is a professional DFS and poker player, while contributing to RotoGrinders and FanGraphs, as well as serving as a part-time political science professor in Chicago, IL. He’s been playing fantasy sports since 1996 and entered the DFS realm in 2014, currently playing high-stakes MLB and NFL cash games and GPPs. He is a Chicago Tribune and SB Nation alum, while holding a J.D./M.A. and L.L.M. from DePaul University.

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6 months ago

I beg to differ; no questions are being begged. They are being *raised* however!

6 months ago
Reply to  Josh