Astros: Can Alex Bregman be even better next season?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 29: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning in Game Six of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

As good as Alex Bregman was in 2019, could he be even better for the Astros in 2020?

When Alex Bregman broke out in 2018 to the tune of 31 homers, 103 RBIs, a league-leading 51 doubles and a .286/.394/.532 line, he had established himself as a bona fide star for the Astros. What’s more impressive, though, is how he managed to take it to another level in 2019.

Bregman’s numbers ballooned to .296/.423/.592 with 41 homers and 112 RBIs with a major league-leading 119 walks against just 83 strikeouts. If not for the fact that Mike Trout exists, he would’ve won the MVP and likely would have a few more coming in the future. He’s still just 25 and is already one of the best all-around hitters in the game.

So the obvious question becomes whether Bregman can take another step forward in 2020. Looking at the numbers, it’s difficult to imagine him being much better than he already is, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against him.

Where’s the Room to Improve?

Not many people envisioned Bregman becoming a 40-homer guy, but he did just that in 2019. He doesn’t have a ton of raw power and isn’t the type to hit the ball a mile like Yordan Alvarez, but his ability to get the barrel to the ball certainly helps. Still, he may have hit his ceiling in this department.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Some of that will depend on how the baseballs fare next year, with many believing the league used “juiced” balls in order to drive up the home run totals and attract more fans. If the composition of the baseballs change next year, that could hurt many people’s power numbers.

It’s also tough to imagine Bregman being much better in terms of plate discipline simply because he’s already so remarkably good. He led the majors in walks and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is impeccable, demonstrating an incredible control and knowledge of the strike zone. There probably is a little room for improvement, but with there being so many good pitchers these days, there can’t be too much room left.

There are two areas where he could see some additional growth. Bregman reached double digits in stolen bases in both 2017 and 2018 but stole only five bases in 2019. He’ll likely never be a 30-30 guy, and the team may not need him to run much with so many good hitters behind him. But there’s room for some more aggressiveness on the basepaths.

Where he could improve the most is in the batting average department. As good of a hitter as he is, Bregman has yet to hit .300 in any major league season. It’s not a necessity that he do so, given that he draws so many walks and gets plenty of extra base hits. But if he’s looking to get better, this is probably the most obvious stat.

Defensively, Bregman had his best season yet, posting 1.2 defensive WAR per Baseball-Reference. He had a better fielding percentage as a shortstop, but he was graded better as a third baseman in the defensive runs saved metric.

Good health from Carlos Correa would allow Bregman to remain at third, and that consistency would probably help. He’ll never be Matt Chapman with the glove, which is fine since that’s not really a fair comparison, but with continued improvement he could find himself among the Gold Glove finalists.

Next. Clemens could make the Hall of Fame this time around. dark

As he enters his age 26 season, Bregman is entering what are typically a player’s prime years. Health permitting, if he can continue playing as well as he’s played over the past few years, he could find himself on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

facebooktwitterreddit