Every-Thing Sports

A letter to Bill O'Brien from Texans fans

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

After their disheartening 16-10 home loss to the Panthers, I knew several Texans fans that are fed up. They're ready for change. Whether it's a new head coach, new play caller, or whatever, they're tired of the status quo with this team. There are people that put their heart and soul (not to mention a bleep-ton of money) into rooting for a team that doesn't give them much of a return on their investment. As a Saints fan, I know the feeling all too well. Been there. Done that. Got the scars to prove it. I asked a few of them to pen an open letter to Bill O'Brien since he seems to be the crux of much of their collective angst. Here's what they had to say:

Daniel B

Dear Coach O'Brien,

I can't stand your arrogance! You act like someone who's won more than what you have. Your arrogance should match your coaching: average! Win something more than a down division before you run around here thinking you're Bill Belichick.

Sincerely, @htxmyhome

Swan

Dear Coach,

I have a real problem with your stubbornness, and arrogance, especially when it comes to these things: your scheme isn't flexible unless on short notice, you're a poor evaluator of talent who overvalues leadership over talent, too loyal to a staff when it's obvious they're incompetent, refusal to delegate & accept that you can't do it all, poor game management and poor play calling. You’re ruining my quarterback! I would give more detailed answers, but I'm busy right now. Catch me later when I have more free time so I can tell you how I really feel.

With All Do Respect, @BlackSundayTxns

Dre

Dear Bill,

There's a few things I need to get off my chest when it comes to you man: your dumb ass challenges, you act like your sh-- don't stink, and you remind me of Kubiak with your sayings "we're gonna have to fix that" and "we're gonna have to look at the film." Either fix whatever you need to fix, or go back to college coaching! I never have a problem with Lil Dre having to go home sad after an Astros game because he's seen them win and win big so he knows that team plays hard. Until then, I'll root for the Cowboys chump!

Kindest Regards, @DRDREon290

Raul

Dear William James O'Brien,

First off: yes, I called you by your government name because you I'm not calling you anything other than what your parents named you, William. I no longer let you ruin my days with your foolishness. Matter of fact, I went to the casinos in the middle of that debacle against the Panthers. I’m not wasting any more of my time and money on a team coached by someone like you until you prove me wrong!

Later William, @CobosQue

As you can see, Texans fans aren't pleased with Bill O'Brien. Personally, I'm tired of writing the same crap over and over again when I watch Texans games. On The Sideline podcast we recorded today, I expressed some of the same concerns. One of my mentors, Craig Shelton, expressed some concerns as well. He said he's not a Texans fan, but wants the team to do well because Houston is his hometown. He also said he feels bad for fans who spend their hard-earned money supporting this team, only to get nothing back in return. That conversation took place a few years ago and still rings true to this day. I truly hope this team turns it around and does so quickly. This fanbase deserves more than what this organization has given them. As a resident of this city and a person who writes recaps of this team, I hope they improve and turn into a consistent AFC contender, as well as a Super Bowl threat. I'm tired of purgatory for this team. I'm tired of the fans having to suffer through mediocrity. This city and it's football fans have been through enough dammit! Give them a consistent winner, or get your ass out of town O'Brien!

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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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