BREGMAN FEELING IT EARLY
It’s only been five games — four of which he started — but the quick start at the plate by third baseman Alex Bregman is an extremely encouraging sign for the Astros — and perhaps news for American League pitchers.
For those who have followed Bregman’s career since he was called up to the Major Leagues in 2016, getting off to a good start at the plate hasn’t exactly come easy for him. He famously and — frustratingly, for him — went 1-for-32 to begin his Major League career in 2016 and was even 1-for-15 to start 2019, the year he posted a 1.015 OPS with 41 homers, 122 runs, 112 RBIs and 119 walks en route to a second-place American League Most Valuable Player finish. Bregman, who’s been hampered by injuries the last two seasons, was named the AL Player of the Week for the first four games season. He went 6-for-13 with a pair of homers with six RBIs while making three starts last week in Anaheim.
“I feel pretty good,” said Bregman after Sunday’s win. “Just getting the timing squared away. I still haven’t gotten that many ABs yet but [I’m] feeling alright and feeling good and just been able to put some good swings on it. I’m seeing it pretty good.”
More importantly for Bregman and the Astros is that he seems to be completely healthy after missing 59 games last season with a quad injury and then being hampered by a wrist injury that required offseason surgery. When he wasn’t playing in ’21, Bregman worked relentlessly in getting his leg in shape to avoid another soft tissue injury. And he carried that work into the winter.
While Bregman’s plate discipline remains elite, a sign that his legs are healthy is that his sprint speed is up, albeit in a limited sample size. He flashed a 27.1 feet per second sprint speed going down the first-base line while trying to beat out a grounder in Anaheim. Last season, his average sprint speed clocked in at 25.6 feet per second, down from 27.0 in ‘20 and 27.4 in ’19.
A shortened Spring Training meant Bregman didn’t get the number of at-bats that he would have liked in Grapefruit League play, but his tireless work in the offseason has paid off so far.
“It was definitely different, the quick buildup, getting into the season,” Bregman explained. “I just had to say all these guys in here did a really good job this offseason of putting in the necessary work of being able to have their bodies in a good position to be able to play after a quick ramp-up.”
Simply put, a return to the offensive production that Bregman had in ‘18 and ‘19 would be a massive lift to a Carlos Correa-less Astros.