Caught between the overall brilliance of Jose Altuve and the meteoric appearance of Yordan Alvarez, the terrific start to Alex Bregman‘s career sometimes gets overlooked. His slow starts to each season, his sometimes childish Twitter throwdowns with other players and his over the top posing and antics after launching home runs take the spotlight off of just how great he has been in his approximate 3-1/2 years with the Houston Astros.
In researching his numbers and comparing it to other Houston youngsters, who had early success, the trip took us through a number of Houston legends. At a similar point in their careers…
- Craig Biggio was about one season away from his career-altering switch from catcher to 2B. His offensive numbers were solid, but not what they would become later in his career. (Thru June 1992 – .274 BA/ .345 OBP/ .721 OPS/264 R/ 29 HRs/ 173 RBIs/ 91 SBs )
- Jose Altuve was becoming a good hitter, but one at that point who was built more on speed and batting average. He had not yet shown much power or on-base components to his game. (Thru Aug. 2014 – .297 BA/ .336 OBP/ .730 OPS/ 233 R/ 19 HRs/ 136 RBIs/ 121 SBs)
- Cesar Cedeno (22 y.o.) was much younger when he had Bregman’s amount of games and ABs under his belt. His production up to that point was much closer than the first two players on this list, but he was lagging just a bit, especially in the on-base and power categories. (Thru Aug. 1973 – .298 BA/ .345 OBP/ .818 OPS/ 301 R/ 57 HRs/ 298 RBIs/ 137 SBs)
- Lance Berkman after a few struggles in his first call-up, put his pedal to the metal and had a “Hall of Very Very Good” start to his career by the time he had as many ABs as Bregman does today.
- Jeff Bagwell after being picked up by the Astros for Larry Andersen and moved from 3B to 1B in one spring training hit the ground running, won the Rookie of the Year Award and established himself as a star when he had reached the same playing time Bregman is at today.
So let’s compare Bregman, Berkman and Bagwell (B’s, B’s, B’s) at the same stage of their careers.
Bregman .286 BA/.384 OBP/.911 OPS/1905 ABs/346 R/140 Dbls/99 HRs/320 RBIs/34 SBs
Berkman .300 BA/.405 OBP/.971 OPS/1906 ABs/308 R/136 Dbls/117 HRs/394 RBIs/28 SBs
Bagwell .300 BA/.383 OBP/.901 OPS/1904 ABs/298 R/111 Dbls/ 71 HRs/329 RBIs/20 SBs
Note: Bregman’s stats thru the end of 2019, Berkman’s stats thru July 11, 2003, and Bagwell’s stats thru June 15. 1994
Looking at these stats objectively, you would probably rank the three at this point in their careers as 1) Berkman 2) Bregman 3) Bagwell. Berkman has terrific numbers across the board, Bagwell just a step behind and Bregman closer to Berkman than Bagwell, but a 1/2 step behind. All of these numbers are strong and indicative of high-quality hitters.
Some things to remember when looking at the statistics…..
- At this point in his career, Bagwell’s numbers were all earned in Death Valley – the Astrodome. Now by the ’90s the Dome was not as bad as when it opened for power folks as they had placed an inner wall inside the old. But it still was not Ten-Run park.
- Berkman played most of this part of his career in Enron Field (MMP) and certainly benefited from this. And he was 27 y.o. at the end of this run compared to Bags at 26 and Bregman at 25.
- Bregman obviously has spent his whole career at the Juice Box and more importantly, his lineup has been pretty darned good in front and in back of him. However, it should also be noted that he has spent long stretches of the last three seasons with Springer, Altuve, and Correa missing significant time.
- Speaking of juice – there have of course been rumors of juiced players and baseballs (and garbage cans?) during all three of these players careers. How much this did or did not help any of these players is just a guess at this point.
The main thought is that Alex Bregman has had a wonderful beginning to his career that puts him on a similar career arc to two of the best players to play for the Astros. That is very impressive.