EVEN THOUGH HIS AVERAGE IS DOWN, HIS POWER NUMBERS HAVE HIM IN THE CONVERSATION

Bregman once again in MVP discussion

Let me start by saying that Mike Trout is the leader for the American League Most Valuable Player Award and his stats are on par with his typical season over the last five years. He is simply the best player in baseball and all you need to do is look at the voting for the award every year since he became an everyday player in the major leagues and you will see consistency, hitting for average, power numbers and a WAR that are all at an elite level. The biggest problem is that he plays for a team in the Angels that are consistently inconsistent and underachieving over Trout's career in the big leagues. If you are the favorite seemingly every year for MVP shouldn't your team be better overall as a unit? It's the same discussion we have had and heard with James Harden and the voting issues that have short-changed him when pitted against Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook. One year wins matter and the next they don't? Regardless of his team's success, it's pretty hard to argue against Trout winning the award again in 2019.

Astros Alex Bregman Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

With all that said about Trout and the year he is having, have you looked at the season Alex Bregman's having and the numbers he is putting up? Most analytical baseball websites have him in the top three when examining the most qualified and deserving candidates for A.L. MVP and when you delve deeper into the stats it pretty easy to see why. Sure his batting average is lower than it was a year ago, ut his power numbers are through the roof. People are quick to forget he normally steps up his game in August and September when most players start to taper off and slow down. Alex is a "gamer" and we all know when the lights are the brightest and the stage at it's biggest, that's when he really shows up in a big way. Just look at his last game on the most recent 10 game road trip to see that amongst a team tired, road-weary and scuffling, Bregman was 4-4 with a walk and 3 RBI. So far in the month of August, he is hitting .442, with 23 hits in 52 at-bats, which 15 were for extra bases, 20 RBI and 10 walks. Is that any good? I would say so! His WAR or wins above replacement is a 6.2 which is 3rd, right behind Trout and his ridiculous 8.2 that leads all of baseball and Cody Bellinger the top candidate for N.L. MVP who is at a career-best 8.1. Safe to say Bregman deserves to be in the discussion when talking about the players having the best overall seasons in baseball in 2019 especially since WAR factors in defense and he is easily one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the sport. He is projected to have a similar average, more home runs and about the same number of RBI as last season when he finished in the top 5 vote-getters for the award given to the best player in the American League.

The Astros parade Bob Levey/Getty Images

The best part about the year Alex Bregman is having is the fact that he has been able to post all these great numbers while being surrounded by a cast of equally talented and previously awarded stars in the Astros batting order on a nightly basis. Jose Altuve has been there and done that when it comes to the MVP, Michael Brantley is in a tight race for the batting title, Carlos Correa has been the A.L. Rookie of the Year, George Springer has been a World Series MVP, Yuli Gurriel was player of the month for July and Yordan Alvarez is on pace to be the latest Houston player to bring home the hardware as the best first-year player in the American League. The team is full of all-stars, but the best part of all these individual success stories is the fact that together they make up one heck of a team. Houston is in a 3 team race for the best record in baseball and along with the Yankees and Dodgers, they are the favorites to win their second World Series title in the last 3 years. Unlike Trout who can only hang his hat on his personal numbers, Bregman and company can take pride in the successful squad they put on the diamond every night as they head towards another division title and postseason birth. It's great to have a great player or players on your team and having outstanding seasons, but it really means nothing if they don't win consistently and accomplish the team goals all great teams set out to achieve at the start of every year. So, you can have your Trout and go fishing every year when the playoffs start, or you can have Houston's collection of stars and have your individual cake and the team can eat it too!

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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