After an encouraging first half, Alex Bregman is starting to take off at a level not seen for a few seasons. Has he returned to his peak form?
Just over a month ago, as another resoundingly successful first half of the season drew to a close for the Houston Astros, I wrote about how Alex Bregman was redeeming himself after a couple of down years despite not being the perennial MVP candidate he was a few years ago. At the time, he was showing glimpses of being the player that crushed opposing pitchers to no end in the late 2010s. He was beginning, slowly but surely, to re-establish himself as one of the premier third basemen in the American League.
Since then, he has pleasantly surprised even his most valiant supporters by having a fantastic start to the second half. Since the all-star break, he hasn’t just been an elite third baseman, but arguably the very best one in MLB. Despite a frustrating loss to the White Sox in Monday night’s series opener, Bregman knocked another RBI double to keep his hot stretch going. Since July 20, he is slashing .330/.400/.591 (.991), which translates to a 184 wRC+. As well, he has hit 5 home runs and 19 RBI and is walking more than striking out.
The theory of “dad strength” has recently been a frequent debate in the baseball-related spheres of social media. Bregman’s performance would support the theory, as he is top-5 in MLB in wRC+, fWAR, and home runs since August 1, the day his first son Knox was born. Whether it’s the motivation of being a new parent or not, Bregman is playing his best baseball in years, and the Astros’ core has been in a gradual shift since the pandemic but they’ve remained dangerous despite their third baseman not playing to his best standards. He’s beginning to change that narrative, though, which makes his team that much more dangerous.
Since his 8-WAR season in 2019 in which he was the runner-up for AL MVP honors, Bregman has not played a full season that wasn’t impacted by injuries. In 2020, he was paying the price of dealing with the fallout from the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, and the rest of the team underperformed with him. In 2021, he missed many weeks with a quad strain. For him, this season started as an improvement over the last one and it’s now turning into something much bigger.
His 19 second-half RBI put him in a tie for 4th place in MLB. His 184 wRC+ places him 9th. His .591 slugging percentage ranks just outside the top 10. Among third basemen, only St. Louis’ Nolan Arenado and Toronto’s Matt Chapman have been more productive hitters since the midsummer classic.
After a 5-1 homestand, the Astros’ momentum was stopped in its tracks with the disappointing loss in Chicago to begin the week. However, Bregman’s continued and heightened success bodes extremely well for them. They’re already the number-1 seed in the AL, and if Bregman can stay hot, there is no limit to how dangerous this team can be.