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 get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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