Alex Bregman

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Alex Bregman
Alex Bregman during his at-bat, March 2, 2019 (cropped 2).jpg
Bregman with the Astros in 2019
Houston Astros – No. 2
Third baseman / Shortstop
Born: (1994-03-30) March 30, 1994 (age 25)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
July 25, 2016, for the Houston Astros
MLB statistics
(through 2019 season)
Batting average.286
Home runs99
Runs batted in320
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Alexander David Bregman (born March 30, 1994) is an American professional baseball third baseman and shortstop for the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB). As a 16-year-old high school sophomore in 2010, Bregman became the first high school player to win the USA Baseball Player of the Year Award. As a junior the following year he batted .678, while setting a New Mexico season record with 19 home runs. In three years of college baseball for Louisiana State University (LSU), Bregman was voted the 2013 National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, won the 2013 Brooks Wallace Award as the country's best college shortstop, and was a two-time All-American.[1] Toward the end of his junior year of college, he was selected by the Houston Astros with the second pick in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft.

In the minor leagues he was named a 2016 AA mid-season All Star, and the 2016 USA Today Minor League Player of the Year, MLB Pipeline Hitter of the Year, and ESPN Prospect of the Year.

Bregman made his MLB debut in July 2016. He started 2017 as the youngest member of Team USA, which won the gold medal in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and ended the season winning the 2017 World Series with the Astros. He was named MVP of the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, and led the American League in doubles in 2018. In 2019 he was again an All Star, led the AL in walks and WAR, and received the 2019 American League Silver Slugger Award at third base.

Early life[edit]

Bregman was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in the Northeast Heights section.[2] He is Jewish, and was a member of Albuquerque's Congregation Albert growing up.[3][4] At age 13–at the time, a head shorter than his 5' 4" mother–in his bar mitzvah speech he said: "I want to be a professional athlete who plays for the love of the game, never quits trying to give my best, and is a good role model for all of the kids who look up to baseball players."[5][6]

His father, Sam Bregman, and his mother, Jackie Bregman (née De Oliveira), met in law school and are both lawyers.[6][7][8] He has two younger siblings, Jessica and Anthony (A.J.); his brother A.J. is also a baseball player, and was selected by the Astros in the 35th round of the 2018 MLB Draft.[9][10][11] His father played baseball as a freshman for the University of New Mexico Lobos in 1982, a team for which his uncle Ben Bregman also played; they both originally moved to Albuquerque to play baseball for the college on baseball scholarships.[12][13][14][15][16] His father was also a part owner, starting in 2006, of the NBA Development League’s New Mexico Thunderbirds.[4][14][16]

His grandfather Stan Bregman was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants.[12][13][17] His grandfather was general counsel for the Washington Senators from the late 1960s until the team moved to Texas in 1971 in a sale that he negotiated, and he helped the club sign Hall of Famer Ted Williams as the team's general manager.[12][13][18] His grandfather saw all of his games in high school.[15] His great-grandfather Samuel "Bo" Bregman immigrated from Russia to Washington, D.C., around 1900 at age 11 to escape Russian anti-Jewish pogroms, and ultimately married Sadie Hurwitz.[19] He promoted boxing cards that featured, among others, Joe Louis, Billy Conn, and Bob Foster.[16][17][20][21] He was also part of the ownership group with George Preston Marshall that moved the Boston Redskins to Washington, D.C., to become the Washington Redskins.

Bregman began playing tee-ball at age 4. In his first game, he turned an unassisted triple play by catching a line drive, tagging a runner, and then stepping on second base.[4][8] He was a batboy for the University of New Mexico baseball team, and in 2004 served as a batboy for a game against Arizona State University and his then-favorite baseball player, Dustin Pedroia.[22][23] Bregman attended Albuquerque Academy.[22] His best friend is Blake Swihart, who played for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bregman and Swihart played travel ball together growing up.[22][23][24]

High school career[edit]

Bregman was coached on travel baseball teams during his high school years at the Albuquerque Academy by Ryan Kellner and Jason Columbus.[7] Bregman primarily played catcher.[25]

In 2009, Bregman led his high school team to a state championship as a freshman shortstop. He batted leadoff in a lineup loaded with home run power, hitting for an average of .514 with three home runs, including one during the championship game that left Isotopes Park, the Dodgers' Class AAA team park.[7][14][26][27] At the October 2010 COPABE Pan American Baseball Championships in Lagos de Mareno, Mexico, while he was a sophomore, he batted .564 for the gold-medal-winning 16-and-under USA National Team, and was named the MVP.[26][28] That year, at the age of 16, he became the first high school player to win the USA Baseball Richard W. "Dick" Case Player of the Year Award.[4][7][14][29]

In 2011, he batted .678 as a junior in high school, and established a season record in New Mexico with 19 home runs.[7][8][30] Bregman was named first team All-State, and received All-Metro and All-District honors.[7] In the fall of that year he led the 18-and-under U.S. National Team to a gold medal at the International Baseball Federation World Championships.[7]

Bregman was originally projected to be a first-round draft pick out of high school. That changed, however, when he shattered the second knuckle on his right (throwing) hand in the fifth game of his high school senior season, while using his bare hand to deflect a bad hop on a ground ball.[4][12][31][32] The injury made him miss most of his senior season.[4][12][31] He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft as a second baseman, after he made clear that he would not sign with any team unless it picked him in the first round.[31][33][34] He elected not to sign with the Red Sox.[33][34] Instead, he chose to attend LSU.[33]

College career[edit]

Bregman playing shortstop for LSU at Baum Stadium

At LSU, Bregman majored in sports administration.[7] He also played shortstop for the LSU Tigers baseball team in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).[7] He wore number 30 as a freshman, reflecting the 30 teams that had passed on him in the first round of the 2012 draft.[31]

In 2013, he batted .369/.417/.546 with 104 hits (second in the nation), 18 doubles (third in the SEC), seven triples, six homers, 52 RBIs, 59 runs, and 16 steals in 17 attempts, and had a 23-game hitting streak.[7][12][35] Bregman won the 2013 Brooks Wallace Award as the country's best college shortstop.[36] He was also voted first-team All-American by Baseball America, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Perfect Game, and the Jewish Sports Review. In addition, he was named the 2013 National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), and was voted 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year and first-team all-SEC by the league coaches.[7][12][37][38][39] Moreover, he was named 2013 ABCA First-Team All-South Region, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Baton Rouge Regional Most Outstanding Player, Louisiana Freshman of the Year, and SEC Player of the Week (March 25, 2013), and named to the 2013 USA Collegiate National Team (for which he batted .361).[7][40]

In 2014, he batted .316/.397/.455 with 16 doubles, 6 home runs, 35 runs, and 12 stolen bases.[7][35] Bregman was voted 2014 second-team all-SEC, NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team, SEC All-Tournament Team, Second-Team All-Louisiana, and named to the 2014 USA Collegiate National Team.[7] He shared an apartment that season with teammate and future fellow major league All Star Aaron Nola.[41]

In 2015, Bregman batted .312/.406/.534 with 22 doubles (tops in the SEC), 9 home runs, 49 RBIs, 37 stolen bases (leading the SEC, and the second-most steals in a season in LSU history), and 206 assists (leading the conference), led the nation's No. 1-ranked baseball team to the College World Series, and won LSU's Skip Bertman Award, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of the LSU Baseball program.[34][42][43][44][45][46] He was also voted the Rawlings Gold Glove winner at shortstop by the ABCA, and voted first-team All-American by both Baseball America and the NCBWA for the second time, First Team D1Baseball, First Team Perfect Game, and Second Team Collegiate Baseball.[47][48][49][50]

He was one of four finalists for the 2015 Golden Spikes Award, presented annually to the nation's top college player and won by outfielder Andrew Benintendi.[51] Also, he was a candidate once more for the Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award that he had won in 2013.[52][53]

In 190 career games at LSU, Bregman batted .338/.412/.520, with 66 strikeouts and 87 walks in 761 at bats.[54]

Professional career[edit]

Minor leagues[edit]

Going into the draft, Bregman was lauded for his sense of the strike zone, bat speed, and ability to make frequent contact and strike out infrequently.[55][56][57] He was also praised for his good range to both sides, first-step quickness, and instincts at shortstop, strong arm, good speed, and smart baserunning.[4][55][56][58]

The Houston Astros selected Bregman with the second overall selection in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft.[44][32] He became the fifth LSU Tiger to be drafted in the first round in seven years, the highest-drafted position player in LSU's history, and the second-highest overall behind pitcher Ben McDonald (1989).[31][59] He is the highest-ever-drafted player from New Mexico, ahead of 9th-picked pitchers Jim Kremmel (1971) and Duane Ward (1982), and the second-highest-ever drafted Jewish player, behind Ron Blomberg (1967).[60][61]

TV analyst and former major league second baseman Harold Reynolds said he believed Bregman projected as a major league second baseman, rather than a shortstop.[32] However, Bregman believed he could play shortstop in the majors, and said that every team that contacted him leading up to the draft had said the same.[32] LSU head coach Paul Mainieri opined: "If you don’t think Alex Bregman can play shortstop at the Major League level, you don’t know the first thing about baseball."[25] Mike Elias, the Astros' Director of Amateur Scouting, said Bregman would remain a shortstop, and that he thought Bregman would play shortstop through Houston's minor league system and into the major leagues.[44] Similarly, Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow said that there was "no question" that Bregman has the skills to play shortstop.[62]

Bregman signed with the Astros in June 2015 for a $5.9 million signing bonus.[62] He made his professional debut with the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Class A Midwest League in late June.[63] In late July, the Astros promoted Bregman to the Lancaster JetHawks of the Class A-Advanced California League.[64] Playing shortstop for the two teams, he batted an aggregate .294/.366/.415.[65]

Bregman started 2016 with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks in the Texas League, hitting .297 with 14 home runs and a .975 OPS, was named the league's Player of the Week on April 17, and was named a AA mid-season All-Star.[66][67] In AAA with the Fresno Grizzlies, in 18 games he hit .333/.373/.641/1.015.[66] Between the two teams, in 80 games he hit .306/.406/.580 with 20 home runs and 61 RBIs, while playing 64 games at shortstop and 13 at third base.[68]

USA Today named Bregman the 2016 Minor League Player of the Year.[69] Bregman was also named MLB Pipeline 2016 Hitter of the Year, and was selected as the third baseman for the MLB Pipeline 2016 Prospect Team of the Year.[70][71] In addition, he was named the 2016 Astros Minor League Player of the Year, ESPN.com Prospect of the Year, and a Baseball America Minor League All-Star.[72]

Houston Astros[edit]

2016[edit]

Bregman with the Astros in 2016

On July 25, 2016, the Astros purchased Bregman's contract from the Grizzlies, adding him to their 25-man roster. He made his major league debut at third base against the New York Yankees that same day.[73] He was the first position player from the 2015 Draft to debut in the Major Leagues.[70] After he was hitless in his first 17 major league at bats through five games, the Astros moved him up to second in the batting order, to get him better pitches and demonstrate their confidence in him.[74]

Bregman recorded his first major league hit on July 31 against the Detroit Tigers, with a single into center field. His first home run came at home on August 16, tying the game against the Cardinals in the first inning with a two-run home run to right field at Minute Maid Park.[75] For the 2016 season, he batted .264/.313/.478 with 8 home runs and 34 RBIs in 49 games.[72] His slugging percentage was the seventh-best of any Astros rookie all-time.[72] With 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa at shortstop, Bregman played 40 games at third base and 4 at shortstop.[76]

2017[edit]

Bregman playing shortstop in 2017

At age 22, Bregman started his 2017 baseball season as the youngest member of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which won its first gold medal in the WBC by defeating Puerto Rico 8–0 in the final.[77][78] He had been invited as well to play for Team Israel which finished sixth at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, as WBC rules allow all Jewish ballplayers to play for the team, and he later said that in retrospect "I probably should've" played for Team Israel "because I got [just] four at-bats" playing as a backup for Team USA.[79]

He was the youngest Opening Day third baseman in team history, at 23 years and 4 days old.[72] During the May 14, 2017, game versus New York at Yankee Stadium, Bregman hit his first major league grand slam off Masahiro Tanaka in a 10–7 Astros win.[80][81] On August 10, Bregman tied the Astros' record for extra-base hits in consecutive games at 10 games, first accomplished by outfielder Richard Hidalgo.[82]

For the 2017 season, he batted .284/.352/.475 with 39 doubles and five triples (the latter two both ninth in the AL), 19 home runs, 88 runs, 71 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases (tied for the lead among all major league third basemen).[76][83] His .331 batting average against left-handers was 9th in the AL.[72] Bregman played third base primarily (132 games), and led AL third basemen in fielding percentage (.970; the 4th-highest fielding percentage by a third baseman in team history), while also playing 30 games at shortstop.[76][72] Houston won the AL West division with a 101–61 record, thus advancing Bregman to his first career major league playoff.[84]

Bregman was a major force for the Astros throughout the 2017 postseason. His home run off of Chris Sale, his second off of Sale in the series, in the 8th inning of Game 4 of the ALDS tied the game 3-3 and jump-started the Astros' rally that led them to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox and propelled them to their first appearance in a Championship Series since 2005. Bregman also showcased his defensive skills throughout the postseason, but especially during the ALCS against the Yankees. In Game 7, with the Astros up 1-0 with Yankees on first and third in the top of the 5th, Bregman threw out Greg Bird at home on a chopper to third off of the bat of Todd Frazier to help preserve the lead. It was considered one of the best plays of the postseason and helped lead the Astros to a 4-0 victory in the pennant-clinching game.

Bregman would once again throw out a runner at home from third base in Game 4 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he gunned down Austin Barnes at the plate in the top of the 6th inning to preserve a 0-0 tie. Bregman also homered off of Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the 9th, but the Astros ultimately fell 6-2. His biggest contribution came during Game 5 when, after a back-and-forth game in which the Astros came back from two separate 3-run deficits, Bregman hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning off Jansen to give the Astros a 13-12 victory and a 3–2 series lead.[85] It was Bregman's first career walk-off hit. He became the second player to drive in a run in each of his first five World Series games, joining Amos Otis.[72] The series lasted seven games, and the Astros won the World Series for the first time ever. [86] Bregman finished his first postseason with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.

2018[edit]

Bregman on base in 2018.

In 2018 the Astros renewed Bregman's contract at $599,000 – an increase of $60,000.[87] In June he was named AL Player of the Month, after batting .306/.372/.713 in 108 at bats, with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs (a new Astros record for June).[88] He became the second Astros third baseman to win the award, along with Art Howe (May 1981).[89] Bregman was also named the AL Player of the Week for the week of June 25-July 1, during which he batted .464/.516/1.179 in 28 at bats with five doubles, five home runs, and ten RBIs.[89][90]

Batting .284 with 17 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 29 doubles, he was named to the 2018 MLB All-Star Game.[91] Bregman was also selected to participate in the 2018 Home Run Derby.[92] After he hit a go-ahead home run in the 10th inning off of Ross Stripling, he was named the Astros' first All-Star Game MVP.[93][94]

In the second half of the season, Bregman became the focal point of the Astros offense as injuries to Carlos Correa, George Springer, and José Altuve took all three of them out of the lineup for most of July and early August. Bregman helped carry the Astros offense through a rough skid in which he batted .342 with 6 home runs and 18 RBIs.[72] During this stretch, the Dugout Stare, a home run celebration that Bregman had begun performing during the 2017 postseason, became popular among his teammates and on social media. In a game against the Seattle Mariners on August 22, Tyler White hit a solo home run in the top of the 9th inning of a 10-7 win. A large group of Astros players, including Bregman, performed a synchronized dugout stare into the camera, eventually becoming their new team home run celebration.[95] The moment gained social media buzz with local Houston businesses and news outlets.[96]

On September 8, Bregman became the youngest Astro ever to hit 30 home runs in a season, at 24 years old.[97] On September 12 he picked up his 50th double of the season as well as his 100th RBI and 100th run scored. Bregman became the first Astro to log 100 RBIs in a season since Carlos Lee in 2009, and the first primary third baseman in Major League history to record 50 doubles and 30 home runs in a season.[98] He also became the first player since Albert Pujols in 2012 to hit 30 home runs and 50 doubles, and drive in 100 runs. Bregman also extended his on-base streak to 39 games (the longest in team history since 1999), and tied Jeff Bagwell's franchise record of reaching base in 51 consecutive games on the road (established in 2001).[98][98]

For the 2018 regular season, he batted .286/.394 (4th in the AL)/.532 (6th in the AL) with 31 home runs and 51 doubles (leading the AL; the 3rd-most in Astros history), 83 extra base hits (2nd in the league), 96 walks (3rd), 105 runs and 103 RBIs (each 5th in the AL), 7.0 at bats per strikeout (9th), and a 15.1 power–speed number (10th).[76][94] Bregman batted .386/.488/.735 with runners in scoring position, the highest slugging percentage in the major leagues and the second-best OPS (behind Mike Trout).[99] He demonstrated plate discipline, as he was 2nd in the American League in lowest swinging strike percentage (4.3%) and O-Swing percentage (20.0%), and 3rd in contact percentage (88.5%), and 3rd in the major leagues in walks/strikeout (1.13).[100][101] He reached career numbers of 50 home runs, 100 doubles, and 200 RBIs in the fourth-fewest games by any player since 1920 (behind only Ted Williams (341 games), Chuck Klein (317 games), and Hank Greenberg (315 games)).[72]

On defense, Bregman was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award at third base.[97] The Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him the Astros' most valuable player.[94] Bregman came in 5th in the voting for American League Most Valuable Player.[102]

In the 2018 American League Division Series Bregman batted .556, and his .714 OBP was the third-highest all-time in a division series, while his 1.333 slugging percentage was fourth-highest all-time.[103]

2019[edit]

In early January 2019, Bregman had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow.[104] He returned to action in spring training on March 2.[105]

In February, 2019, Bregman invited a young baseball player, Jax Nystrom, who he spotted on PitchingNinja Rob Friedman (baseball analyst)'s FlatGroundApp Twitter account, to train and hit with him in Spring Training.[106]

In March, Bregman and the Astros agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension.[107] The deal covered the 2019 season, the three years he would have been eligible for arbitration, and the first two years he could have been a free agent.[108] It was the second-highest contract in club history.[108] The contract was also the third-largest ever for a player with between two and three years of major league service time.[109]

Bregman was named the American League Player of the Month for August 2019.[110]

For the 2019 regular season, he batted .296/.423/.592 (tied for 8th-highest in Astros history), led the major leagues in walks (119; 6th-most in Astros history) and walks/strikeouts (1.43), and led the American League in times on base (292; 9th-highest in team history) and Wins Above Replacement ("WAR"; 8.4; second-best in Astros history).[111][76][112] Bregman was also 2nd in the AL in on base percentage (.423), 3rd in home runs (41; 7th-most in team history), slugging percentage (.592), and on base plus slugging percentage (1.015), 4th in runs scored (122; 9th-most in Astros history), 5th in RBIs (112), extra base hits (80; 8th-most in Astros history), and sacrifice flies (8), 7th in games played (156), 8th in at bats per strikeout (6.7), and 9th in at bats per home run (13.5; 10th-best in team history).[76][112] He swung at the lowest percentage of pitches outside the strike zone of all major league batters (18.8%).[113] He was one of three major league players with at least 100 runs, 100 walks, and 100 RBIs, joining Mike Trout and Juan Soto.[114] Through 2019 he had the 4th-highest career on-base percentage (.384), slugging percentage(.527), and OPS (.911) of all Astros batters, and the 8th-best career rate of at-bats per home run (19.2).[115] He became the only player in Astros history to hit 40 or more homers in a season while striking out fewer than 100 times, and joined Joe Morgan as the only players in team history to amass 100 or more walks and strike out fewer than 90 times in a season.[116] On defense, he played 99 games at third base, and 65 games at shortstop.[76]

In the 2019 postseason, Bregman enjoyed an excellent ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, batting .353/.450/.647 with two doubles, one home run, three walks, and two RBIs. Bregman's bat went ice cold in the ALCS and first three games of the World Series, though, as he struggled through a 4-for-31 (.129) slump with only one home run and three RBIs.[117] Bregman broke out of his slump in Game 4 of the World Series by hitting 3-for-5 with a grand slam and 5 RBIs in an 8-1 Astros win that tied the series at 2-2.

After the season, he received the 2019 American League Silver Slugger Award at third base, as the best offensive player in the league at the position.[118] Bregman came in second in the vote for 2019 American League Most Valuable Player, with 335 points (13 first-place votes, and 17 second-place votes) as winner Mike Trout garnered 355 points (17 first-place votes, and 13 second-place votes), with the two players being listed first and second on every ballot.[119]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Francisco Lindor
AL Player of the Month
June 2018
Succeeded by
Jose Ramirez
Preceded by
Nelson Cruz
AL Player of the Week
June 25–July 1, 2018
Succeeded by
Xander Bogaerts