Every-Thing Sports

2019 NFL offseason key dates

NFL.com

Super Bowl 53 has come and gone. No matter how bad, or good, we all thought of the game (and the halftime show as well), it's over and so is the 2018-19 NFL season. However, fear not football junkies, there are still points of interest for you to pay attention to when it comes to getting your football fix.

The slates have been wiped clean and the offseason is upon us. If your team has any chance of making a run in the 2019-20 season, here are several key dates to pay attention to:

February 26-March 4 The Scouting Combine: Affectionately known as "The Underwear Olympics," this is where future prospects can either mak, or lose themselves money. Whether it's through medicals examinations, interviews, or drills, draft prospects can lose draft positioning due to the results of things that occur off the field of play.

March 5 Franchise/transition Tag Deadline: This is the last date in which teams can apply either of these tags to players. Typically, players with these tags stay with their teams. However, if they move via trade, it means the team losing the player gets compensation.

March 13 Free Agency and trading period begins: This is the first day teams can sign unrestricted and/or restricted free agents to contracts and trade for players under contracts with other teams. Free agency is often done in waves. The first few days are when the bulk of the bigger deals are done.

April 25-27 The Draft: The NFL Draft is one of the biggest events of any professional sports offseasons. It startswith primetime airing of the first round, then the second and third rounds air the following day with the fourth through seventh rounds the day after. This is often times seen as the crown jewel of the offseason.

July 15 Franchise Tag Signing Deadline: If a team has given a player the Franchise Tag, this is the last date in which said player can sign a long-term deal with that team. If a long-term deal isn't signed by this date, the player can only sign a one year deal under franchise tag label with said team.

Mid to Late July Reporting for Training Camp: While the dates vary per team, most will report somewhere between July 22-31. The date typically corresponds with the first preseason game. This is why teams playing in the Hall of Fame Game report earlier since they have a fifth preseason game scheduled earlier than other teams.

August 31 Cut Down to 53-Man Roster: Teams must cut their preseason rosters down to 53 by 4pm Eastern Time. The interesting part here is that some good veteran players will be cut in favor of younger, and often cheaper, players. This allows the roster to be reshaped last-minute in some rare cases.

September 5 Thursday Night Opener: The date that most football fans are dying to get to is the kickoff special. This is the date in which the New England Patriots will host an opponent to start the new regular season schedule. All other teams will play on September 8 and 9.

There are other key dates that some of the more hardcore fans may want to pay attention to and here's a link to the NFL Operations page that lists the key offseason dates in greater detail. I know most fans are casual and won't give a damn about any of this. But there are a special bunch of us that need to feed our insatiable appetites for all things football until we get the real deal to return. This was a great season. While it may not have ended like many of us wanted it to, it was a season that was thoroughly enjoyed by most fans. This is the time of year when nearly every team's fanbase can claim to have a shot next season. Here's to renewed hope and the thought of having bragging rights for at least one season.

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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