TAKING A SWING

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change

Alex Bregman should move back up in the order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Astros have scored 190 runs this season, the thir\rd highest total in baseball. They are averaging 4.87 runs per game, putting them eighth overall in the MLB. But 78 of their runs have come in 9 games against two of the worst teams in the AL (White Sox - 3 games, 27 runs and Athletics - 6 games, 51 runs ). That’s a whopping 8.6 runs per game average versus those two teams.

In the other 27 games? The Astors are averaging 4.1 runs per game. That would put them tied for 21st in baseball. So while the 190 runs looks great on paper, it feels more like fools' gold to me.

And while it seems as if some of the bats have woken up (welcome to the party Marwin Gonzalez - who is slashing .333/.385/.458 over the last seven days), I think it might be time for AJ hinch to explore a lineup change, specifically moving Alex Bregman back to the 2 hole.

On the surface Bregman’s numbers are admittedly underwhelming. His .259 batting average and .399 slugging percentage aren’t great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Bregman has been doing “the little things” at the plate that make a huge difference.

His .369 OBP is second on the team, his 11 doubles are second on the team, he has the 2nd fewest strikeouts (21) on the team among hitters with over 100 plate appearances (Altuve has 20), but most impressive to me are his 23 walks, good for first on the team and it’s not even close (Reddick is second with 19...I know that surprised me too).

Oh did I mention Bregman is also 1st on the team with 3 steals?

I think moving Bregman back to the No. 2 hole in the lineup could end up having similar results that moving Springer to the leadoff spot dead a while back. What better way to increase run scoring on a team than to have traffic on the base paths, and the numbers prove that Bregman can provide that as much as anyone else on the team.

And while I understand that moving Correa and Altuve down a slot means they will get a few less at bats, I think it's more than acceptable to do so since it will also create more run producing opportunities for them.

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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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