2018 Player Profile: Alex Bregman
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Alex Bregman was a target for many last season. After a very successful first season with the Astros, and the added shortstop eligibility to his already existing third base eligibility, the drums are beating very loudly with Bregman who seems to see his ADP rising on a weekly basis. Is he really set for an elite season in 2018?
24 years old
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 185 lbs
Position: Third Base, Shortstop
Bregman was drafted second overall by the Astros after a college career at LSU. He was a polished product leading to a quick ascension through the minors (.300/.388/.503 with 24 homers and 20 steals in 146 games).
In his first full season, Bregman went 19/17 while qualifying at third base and shortstop. Qualifying at both positions is a big boost to his value, and it’s something very few players possess (by my count as listed in Multi-Position Performers there are only six such eligible fantasy options). That along makes him valuable. Add in the power/speed combination, just 15 players went 19/17 last year, and the fact that he is part of an impressive Astros lineup, and you can see why interest in acquiring his services is so high.
Bregman struck out just 97 times last season while posting a contact rate of nearly 86 percent. These days, the only players who post numbers like that over a full season are guys that hit seven homers. The fact that Bregman has an advanced approach, that includes so much contact, is a true feather in his hat. Think of it like this. Aaron Judge struck out 208 times in 542 at-bats. In 14 more at-bats Bregman struck out 111 fewer times. Basically, you could double the at-bat total of Bregman and he would still have had fewer strikeouts than Judge. When you put the ball in play, good things happen. It’s really pretty simple.
Bregman had 55 walks. It’s not an ideal total, nor is his 8.8 percent walk rate, but it’s a totally passable level that doesn’t suggest any batting average danger. It’s also good to see that his poor 0.29 BB/K rate as a rookie doubled to 0.57 last season.
That approach enabled Bregman to post a .352 OBP last season, a gap of .068 points above his .284 batting average, which is nice to see. His solid approach also led to some similar numbers across the board, or at least no obvious gaps to be overly concerned with.
You will note that if those situations remain that same that starting Bregman at home against a righty would be your worst option, while starting him on the road against a lefty is a beautiful scenario for production.
In two seasons Bregman has posted BABIP’s of .317 and .311.
In two seasons Bregman has posted hard-hit rates of 32.0 and 33.0 percent.
That some serious consistency.
However, after posting an out of this world line drive rate of 28.2 percent as a rookie, the mark fell back to a nearly league average mark of 21.7 percent. Given his overall game, the line drive rate from ’17 is the number you should be looking at. Further...
Bregman had a “barrel” every 3.5 plate appearances last season, and amongst players with at least 190 batted ball events that ranked 254th. That’s not impressive.
Bregman had an average exit velocity of 87.6 mph last season, a rate that was 194th amongst players with at least 190 batted ball events. That’s not impressive.
What this all suggests is that batting average growth doesn’t seem likely.
It would also appear that Bregman has a hole in his swing that he needs to clean up. Of course, it’s a hole that many right handed batters have, the low and away hole.
Here are some charts that speak to the weakness.
First, the exit velocity. Note there was only one zone with a mark below 82.0 mph.
Teams know about the hole too, and they attack it. Here are the percentage of pitches thrown to each zone last season.
Obviously, it’s important for Bregman to avoid falling behind in the count so he won’t have to expand the strike zone. This can easily be seen in his .221 average and .393 SLG that occurred on the 122 at-bats in which he put the slider in play.
Bregman hit 19 homers last season. He accomplished that based upon volume of work.
Bregman posted a 12.5 percent HR/FB ratio as a rookie. In year two the mark was 10.2 percent. Pretty much the same guy.
In year one he posted a 43 percent fly ball rate, and in year two the mark was 40 percent.
The league ratios last season were 13.7 percent and 36 percent. Clearly, Bregman hit a few more fly balls and converted them at a slightly lower rate, than the league average.
Let’s go back to the hard-hit ball rate that was mentioned above. The mark was a poor 30.1 percent in the first half before rising to 35.9 percent in the second half. You will see people talking about this second half growth claiming it’s a sign of a potential power breakout. Is half a season of games enough for a young player to set a new baseline? Consider me dubious of that. What if Bregman posted a 35.9 in the first half and 30.1 hard hit ball rate in the second half? If that happened, folks would be suggesting tempering your excitement as the league figured him out. However, since it happened in the second half folks assume it’s a new level of growth. Could it be possible that he was too low in the first half and too high in the second half? Maybe the overall mark was more who he is than the second half mark? None of us know yet, which is why I would caution reading too much in to the second half number, though it was certainly good go see. Oh, you should note that his average exit velocity in the two halves was led than half a mile apart which doesn’t suggest big growth is coming.
I would also note that his work against righties wasn’t exemplary. Here are some power numbers.
Unless Bregman finds a way to lift his performance against righties, significant power growth seems unlikely.
Bregman stole 17 bases last season, a call back to his minor league production after he swiped just two bases as a rookie in 2016.
Last season Bregman had a speed score of 5.9. Amongst players with 400 plate appearances that mark was 26th out of 216 qualifiers. Bregman posted a BsR mark of 0.3 in 2017. That mark was 104th out of 216 qualifiers (minimum 400 plate appearances). Bregman has stolen 19 bags in 24 attempts, a rate of 79 percent, a solid rate.
Bregman isn’t a speed burner, but he certainly has enough skills on the base paths to be a double-digit theft option.
The current plan is for Bregman to handle third base duties all season long with Carlos Correa healthy and fulling the shortstop role. It also looks like Bregman is slated to hit second, behind George Springer and ahead of Jose Altuve, pretty much the best possible spot in the universe.
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA
As of this writing, here is the ADP data for Bregman.
6th at 3B
4th at SS
Bregman is young. He’s part of a good offense. He has a nice power speed game. His approach is also one I’m fond of. Oh, and he qualifies at two spots defensively which certainly adds to his value. All that said, his current cost is crazy high. Is he really two rounds better than Anthony Rendon (58.0 ADP) or four rounds better than Xander Bogaerts (85.4)? I like Bregman an awful lot, but the price is exceedingly high at the moment.
10-Team Mixed: You will have to draft him so early, it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it. His positional flexibility is less of a bonus in a smaller league like this as well.
12-Team Mixed: How much will he improve is the open-ended question. A full-on repeat of last season makes his current cost a bit high, so he will need some growth in order to support the outlay on draft day.
15-Team Mixed: The skills, and positional flex, as well as his age, pedigree and team, stretch things to the point where it’s possible he ends the year as a top-5 option at both spots he qualifies at. That said, a lot will have to go right for that to occur.
AL-Only League: His positional flexibility is a huge bonus, something that pushes his potential value a bit higher. His stable game is also a plus, as his floor is higher than so many players that people will be building around in this format.