by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
If you look at WAR Alex Bregman was a Top 20 player in the second half of ’17. It was a huge leap forward for the #2 overall pick in 2015, though it also isn’t a surprising one. As it is he finished with strong numbers across the board last season:
556 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (158 Hits)
19 Home Runs
17 Stolen Bases
.352 On Base Percentage
.475 Slugging Percentage
.311 Batting Average on Balls in Play
His power and speed really blossomed after the All-Star Break, with 11 HR and 9 SB in 297 PA, and he also hit a tidy .315. That puts him on pace for nearly a 25/20 season, and that’s without further development from a 23-year old (he’ll turn 24 just before the start of the 2018 season) who entered professional baseball with lofty expectations.
Now the question that needs to be answered is if he can maintain, or better, this pace…
Bregman’s plate discipline was seen as his greatest strength as he worked his way up through the minors, though upon reaching the Majors in ’16 that took a turn. He seemingly made the necessary adjustments, posting a 6.4% SwStr% and 25.8% O-Swing% in ’17 (leading to a 15.5% strikeout rate and 8.8% walk rate). He was swinging and missing even less in the second half (5.4% SwStr%) and his worst Whiff% came against offspeed pitches. Considering that mark was 12.39% (which represents the best mark for some players) and given his pedigree, the potential to continue hitting .300+ is extremely high (especially since last year’s mark came courtesy of a .311 BABIP and 21.7% line drive rate).
While he hadn’t necessarily shown an ability to steal bases in the past, that is an asset that’s always been there. Check out this remark from Rich Wilson of Prospect 361, which came prior to the 2016 season:
He’s also a plus runner with a chance to steal 30 plus bases annually.
So we have a good approach and an ability to run, that leaves his power as the wild card. He’s hit 27 HR over 757 AB in the Majors, all well posting solid HR/FB rates:
- 2016 – 12.5%
- 2017 – 10.2%
Considering he added 39 doubles and 5 triples last season (52 doubles and 8 triples during his time in the Majors), it’s clear that he could continue adding power as he matures. We’ve seen it with Jose Altuve, who was never expected to produce the HR totals he has, and playing in Houston is only going to aid in Bregman’s development. He had an even split in ’17 (9 HR at home, 10 HR on the road), which only adds to the appeal and the likelihood that he maintains this.
Seeing Bregman produce .300/20/20 years looks extremely realistic. That would place him among the elite, and with the plate discipline he will be even more valuable in OBP formats. Always a buy on our list, consider him a must own heading into ’18.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Prospect 361
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: