Every-Thing Sports

An open letter to Trevor Bauer and Astros trolls

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

The 2020 MLB season is about to get started (*provided the 'rona doesn't ruin it) on July 23. The schedule was announced on July 6 for the 60-game schedule for each team. The schedule was developed by region in order to make travel easier on teams. With all that worked out, you knew it wouldn't be long before the trolls came calling. I've decided to pen this letter to all the trolls out there.

Dear Astros trolls:


The obvious

We all know the Astros were caught cheating in their run to the 2017 World Series title. They stole signs using means banned by MLB. Guess what? So did a lot of other teams! It's been going on since the invention of the game! The Yankees and MLB actually collaborated to get a sealed document suppressed because MLB couldn't have their Golden Goose outed as one of the cheaters. This is despite them already being fined, along with the Red Sox (the Silver Goose), prior to the 2017 season for using Apple Watches to steal signs. Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. There's a glass house in every MLB city.

Astros accepted their fate

This team didn't do the best job accepting their fate initially. Owner Jim Crane went scorched Earth firing GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J. Hinch. The initial statements by players were awkward. Crane didn't make it better by being awkward himself. However, they managed to get it together and rallied around one another. Carlos Correa's interview with Ken Rosenthal on February 15 of this year was the best piece of rebuttal from the Astros because it was heartfelt, unscripted, and was out of character for a guy who's normally very buttoned up or calculated (go to the 13:05 mark for the buildup to the STFU comment).

Snitches get stitches

The only reason this got out was because Mike Fiers (a pitcher on the 2017 Astros) decided to spill the beans in November 2019. He acted like a scorned lover because the Astros refused to pay him what he wanted after the 2017 season. He had to take $6 million from the Tigers to play in 2018, then got traded to Oakland where he signed a two-year deal. He had no reason to snitch other than being bitter after two years. In sports, what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room. Seeing as how he violated this law, I don't know how his teammates can trust him.

Clowns

Guys like "Tyler" Bauer, which he was once called by Alex Bregman, are clowns. (So let's continue to have some fun with his name throughout this article). They could never get the job done when it counts, so they troll as hard as they can. He's never won anything of any significance. He's only been an All-Star once (2018), and has never won any other team or individual awards. I gave him credit for going after Curt Schilling on Twitter for his outrageous views, but realize he's only pandering for an audience and reaction, therefore, rendering anything he does irrelevant. The tweet above is typical of failure culture: you cling to anything that prevented you from the successes you failed at and make fun of them because you couldn't beat them. "Timmy" Bauer should concentrate on being a better pitcher instead of catering to social media. You make more money when you're actually good at your job than when you're a social media troll.

In conclusion

"Travis" Bauer should probably work on getting onto a team that may actually have a chance at winning something instead of the Reds who haven't won anything in 30 years. Maybe the trolls should be concentrating on why their team sucks as bad as they do, instead of why they can't hit breaking balls or field balls hit into the gaps sharply. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a columnist for a Houston website that happens to be an Astros fan. "Timothy" Bauer is a decent pitcher, but his trolling of the Astros for kicking his and everyone else's ass in 2017 has grown to pitiful levels. This is looking like a group of kids upset that the new kid has figured out how to pass the new math testing standard better than the rest, so they're pissed! "Theodore" Bauer and company should chill and STFU like Carlos Correa suggested. Trying to throw stones from a glass house doesn't work well. The 2017 World Series win will stand for the same reasons Correa listed in that interview with Rosenthal. Bauer and his band of trolls need to recognize that won't change. Say what you may, print shirts, tweet, post on IG and whatever else, but it won't change the fact that the Astros are the 2017 World Series champs and that's something you can suck on for the rest of your miserable lives!

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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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