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HomeMLB BaseballAlex Bregman Is Powerless | FanGraphs Baseball

Alex Bregman Is Powerless | FanGraphs Baseball

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports activities

On Tuesday night time, in his twenty sixth recreation of the 2024 season, Alex Bregman hit his first house run. It didn’t come a second too quickly. Over his first 25 video games, Bregman had run a wRC+ of 65. Till this yr, he’d by no means had a stretch of 25 video games in a single season during which he’d hit so poorly. Even in his worst season, an damage shortened 2021 marketing campaign, he nonetheless completed with a 114 wRC+ and a couple of.1 WAR. Thus far this season, Bregman has been value simply 0.2 WAR. A cursory take a look at Bregman’s numbers over these first 25 video games tells a quite simple story: zero house runs, .268 SLG, .052 ISO. That’s not only a energy outage. That’s a catastrophic grid failure. Solely as soon as earlier than has Bregman posted an ISO this low over a 25-game stretch: In 2017, within the 54th via 78th video games of his total profession, his ISO was .044. As a result of he’s been an impression participant for therefore lengthy, it’s straightforward to neglect that Bregman is simply 30 years outdated. It’s not as if Father Time has out of the blue caught up with him, and he’ll certainly bounce again sooner or later. However what’s happening proper now?

Bregman has at all times had a considerably odd offensive profile. As Houston hitting coach Troy Snitker informed reporters, “He doesn’t hit for energy as a result of he hits the ball tougher than most guys; he hits for energy as a result of he hits it within the air greater than most guys.” In his total profession, Bregman has posted an above-average hard-hit charge simply as soon as, and he’s by no means damaged 40%. Nevertheless, he has impeccable plate self-discipline and bat-to-ball abilities, and he’s consistently pulling the ball within the air. Though he’s recorded an above-average barrel charge simply as soon as, he’s by no means as soon as had a below-average candy spot charge. If you happen to’re pulling the ball within the air, particularly at Minute Maid Park, you don’t must hit the ball laborious sufficient to qualify for a barrel; you simply must hit it laborious sufficient to get to the Crawford Containers. Since 2015, Bregman has hit 18 house runs at or beneath 95 mph, second in all of baseball to Didi Gregorius with 19.

Snitker noticed Bregman’s method as a chance. “So with guys like that,” he stated, “should you can have any small enhancements to how laborious the ball is coming off (the bat), he advantages probably the most, as a result of he’s already getting probably the most balls on the market.” This offseason, Snitker proposed weighted bat coaching in an effort to enhance Bregman’s bat pace, with the objective of including only a single mile per hour in exit velocity: “Simply his batted-ball profile with 1 mile an hour is value so much in manufacturing,” stated Snitker. Bregman defined that the main target was “attempting to maneuver (the bat) as quick as I might.” After 4 months of coaching, Bregman stated, his bat pace numbers elevated considerably with out having any opposed impression on his mechanics. Coming into spring coaching, Bregman stated he felt like his swing was “in the very best spot that it’s been in years.”

For sure, the outcomes haven’t been there. Bregman’s hard-hit charge is down, as are his common exit velocity and his fiftieth percentile exit velo. Nevertheless, his ninetieth percentile EV is doing simply high quality and he’s almost matched his max from final season. It’s not that he can’t hit the ball as laborious as he used to; it’s simply that he’s not doing it as usually.

Alex Bregman’s Exit Velocity

Yr HH% EV EV50 EV90 Max EV
2022 37.6 88.9 98.4 102 109.2
2023 38.2 88.6 98.1 101.6 107.5
2024 33.7 87.5 96.7 102.2 107.2

However it’s not simply his contact high quality; it’s his total batted ball profile. Bregman’s groundball charge has exploded whereas his pull charge has cratered. His pull charge hadn’t been beneath 42% since his rookie season, however this yr it’s at 33.7%. Solely as soon as earlier than has he had a groundball charge as excessive as 40%; this yr he’s at 42.7%. Take a look at his spray charts from 2023 and 2024. There’s a lot much less within the outfield, particularly to the pull aspect.

Bregman’s line drive charge has cratered. When he hits the ball on the bottom, he’s rolling over the it and sending it to shortstop moderately than ripping it down the road. His fly ball charge is almost the identical, however when he places it within the air, he’s usually dropping his again shoulder, leading to a weakly hit ball to proper subject.

If we mix the contact high quality and batted ball profile, the image turns into extra clear. In 2023, Bregman’s hard-hit balls had a median launch angle of 13.6 levels, and his balls that weren’t hard-hit have been at 20. This yr, these numbers are 10 and 26.8. Because it’s at the moment constituted, Bregman’s swing simply doesn’t appear as optimized because it as soon as was for laborious contact within the air. Within the launch angle charts beneath, I’ve highlighted the exit velocities above 80 mph. In 2023, his common EV was that prime on absolutely anything besides popups and balls hit straight into the bottom. This yr, not solely is he hitting the ball at optimum launch angles much less usually, when he does, he’s hitting it softer.

In order that’s the dangerous information. Now let’s take a look at some causes for optimism. To begin with, it’s nonetheless April (or at the least it was whereas I used to be scripting this). Bregman often begins sluggish, although not this poorly; his profession 110 wRC+ in March/April is his worst of any month. And perhaps he simply wants a while to get used to his new swing. Second, an enormous motive for Bregman’s issues is that his line drive charge cratered, and line drive charges are notoriously fickle. Third, Bregman has been seeing harder pitches this season. As a result of he succeeds by lifting the ball to the pull aspect, it’s no shock that pitchers have at all times tried to assault him away and down. Nevertheless, they’ve achieved a significantly better job of hitting that exterior nook this season. He’s seen extra pitches on the perimeters of the zone and fewer pitches proper down the center than in any earlier season. The warmth maps beneath present the situation of the pitches he noticed in 2023 and 2024.

After these, perhaps we shouldn’t be stunned that Bregman has made worse swing choices and had a tougher time pulling and lifting the ball. Assuming pitchers don’t stay that exact all season, this could possibly be one thing that evens out over time.

When a participant stops pulling the ball, it additionally is smart to test whether or not they simply can’t get round on the fastball anymore, however that doesn’t appear to be the issue. Though he’s had poor outcomes in opposition to four-seamers, a pitch he often crushes, Bregman is each chasing and whiffing in opposition to them much less usually than he did final yr. It’s breaking and offspeed stuff that’s giving him matches, and gamers don’t often neglect learn how to hit smooth stuff after eight glorious large league seasons. That lends credence to the concept that Bregman has merely been scuffling with timing points. That his homer final night time got here in opposition to a changeup ought to make it all of the extra encouraging.

Let’s assume that Bregman’s weighted bat work did give him some extra energy. Perhaps we must be inspired by the truth that his exit velocity hasn’t fallen all that drastically, contemplating the truth that he hasn’t actually been swinging on the proper pitches or making the type of contact he desires. Perhaps when he does determine these issues out, that further energy will announce itself.

It’s additionally value noting that Bregman’s batting stance seems to be completely different this season. His stance was barely closed in 2023, however this yr he’s squared as much as the pitcher and a bit of extra upright. Moreover, his leg kick is usually much less pronounced now than it was final season. Within the stills beneath, I captured Bregman for the time being when his knee was at its highest; it’s delicate, however you may see that it’s a bit increased on the left, in 2023. Regardless of these adjustments, by the point he will get his foot down, it seems to be to me like he’s in just about the identical hitting place that he was final yr.

I don’t need to come anyplace close to blaming Bregman’s struggles on his new stance or the adjustments he made to his swing. There are 1,000,000 issues that could possibly be affecting his efficiency, and it will be facile to grab on the few that I can see or examine within the Houston Chronicle. That stated, these are so much of adjustments to make to a swing in a single offseason, particularly when that swing has been so efficient. Perhaps Bregman simply wants a while to get used to going through large league pitching with this swing, or perhaps he wants to contemplate returning to what was working for him earlier than. After a two-hit perforamnce in Mexico Metropolis on Sunday, Bregman famous that he one thing appeared to click on when he tried entering into his load earlier. Both means, issues are sure to choose up eventually, if for no different motive than that they couldn’t get a lot worse.



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