The start of the 2023 season has been a bit frustrating for Houston's third baseman Alex Bregman. The former MVP candidate is off to a bit of a slow start, hitting .197 with a .641 OPS. His numbers are even better than they were just a week or two ago, as Bregman started the season 0-18.
After finishing 2022 on such a high note, it appeared Bregman had regained his MVP form. Bregman hit .287 with an .894 OPS in the second half of the season.
While Bregman is a notoriously slower starter, his low levels of production still leave much to be desired. That said, the desired breakout is coming.
Bregman has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, raising his average from .150 to .197. Both of his home runs, six of his seven runs and nine of his 13 walks have come in that stretch. But beyond just the counting stats raising, his quality of contact leaves hope that the Bregman of old is about to explode.
According to Statcast, Bregman sits in the 77th percentile of wxOBA and 69th percentile of xSLG. His .303 slugging percentage is 165 points lower than his xSLG.
While analytics aren't a total be all end all and the old adage of "hit 'em where they ain't" is still true, if Bregman continues making this quality of contact, it would be a historically disproportionate outcome if the gap between actual slug and expected slug didn't shrink.
Additonally, his .252 xBA is 55 points higher than his .197 average. Base knocks should begin to come in bunches. His 38.2% hard hit rate is actually higher than his MVP caliber season in 2019.
And while his bat isn't quite where he'd like it to be, Bregman's defense hasn't suffered in the slightest. Still in search of his first Gold Glove, Bregman is currently in the 92nd percentile in outs above average and has already been worth two defensive runs saved.
Rest assured Houston, the MVP candidate Alex Bregman we've come to know and love is coming soon. Very soon.