2022 has been a solid season for Alex Bregman.
In trademark fashion, he’s walked more times than he’s struck out, and he looks to be on his way to a 20-homer campaign. A 132 wRC+ — his highest since 2019 — underscores how effective he’s been at the plate this year.
But in August, the Astros third baseman has elevated his game to a new level, as displayed in yesterday’s contest against the Rangers when Bregman looked like his vintage self, going 2-for-2 with a home run and two walks.
Through nine games (38 plate appearances) in August, the two-time All-Star is slashing .400/.500/.533 with one home run (149 wRC+), complete with seven walks and just three punchouts. A significant uptick in line drives has presumably helped boost Bregman’s numbers:
It’s this version of Bregman that is perhaps his best. With the ball no longer carrying the way it used to, he’s unlikely to produce gaudy home-run totals like he did in 2019 (41) and 2018 (31). He’s still a viable source of power, but getting on base is far and away his biggest strength.
After batting third for much of the season, Bregman’s been utilized in the cleanup spot for the last several weeks, putting him in more of a position to drive in runs. While he is a better fit to hit second, as drawing walks and getting on base is something he can seemingly do in his sleep, he’s now required to hit more in order to bring runners in. So far, he has.
Since being inserted into the 4-hole in late June, Bregman’s slashing .302/.383/.496 in 149 plate appearances. His RBI total of 59 may seem unremarkable, but so long as he continues to hit, that’s all that matters, especially with an on-base machine like Yordan Álvarez, owner of a .401 OBP, batting in front of him.
Usually a passive hitter who seldom swings at pitches outside the strike zone, it seems Bregman has become somewhat more aggressive at the plate since being moved down a spot in the batting order:
This altered approach hasn’t induced more chases outside the zone, but it has ostensibly enabled Bregman to swing at more pitches inside the zone, which has led to quality results.
Entering Friday, the Astros own the No. 1 seed in the American League as well as an 11-game lead in the AL West. With the postseason less than two months away, there might not be a better time for a hitter to get hot than during the regular season’s stretch run. In an ideal scenario for Bregman and the Astros, it acts as a launching pad come October, which is rather pertinent considering what happened in 2021.
A wrist injury greatly hampered Bregman’s ability to make an impact in last year’s postseason, with the former No. 2 overall pick appearing strangely anemic with the bat, producing an abysmal .217/.304/.300 (65 wRC+) slash across 69 plate appearances.
It can’t be known if a healthy Bregman would’ve changed the outcome of the last World Series, but with the Astros primed to make another deep playoff run, it bodes well that their longtime third sacker is playing some of his best baseball of the season as its conclusion nears.