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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Houston's winning streak moves to six

Eighth-inning rally powers Astros to series sweep over Rangers

Yuli Gurriel brought in the go-ahead run late in Sunday's game. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Winners in the first three games of this series and their last five games overall, the Astros continued their climb towards the A's for first place in the AL West. They completed the four-game sweep, ending a successful homestand on a positive note before heading on the road.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 2

Astros' Record: 24-17, tied for first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brooks Raley (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Joely Rodriguez (1-2)

Astros strike first, McCullers Jr. goes six scoreless

After the Rangers went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Houston grabbed an early lead off the bat of Alex Bregman. He provided the third single of the inning, a one-out RBI to put the Astros in front 1-0, a score which would hold steady for a while. Another run didn't come across until the bottom of the fifth when Houston would load the bases with one out when Carlos Correa would get an RBI groundball to double the lead to 2-0.

Lance McCullers Jr. did well with the small lead, backing up his recent eight-inning gem with a quality start against Texas. He allowed a couple of hits each in the third and fourth but would erase the runners with no damage allowed. The Rangers threatened in the top of the sixth with a leadoff double before the runner moved to third on a wild pitch, putting him in a great position with no outs. McCullers Jr. would come away unscathed, finishing the inning and his day by retiring the next three batters. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 95 P.

Rangers tie it against Scrubb

First out of Houston's bullpen was Andre Scrubb, and he would not fare as well as the Astros starter. A leadoff single turned into a two-run game-tying homer, making it 2-2 before Scrubb would sit down the next three in order. Still tied in the top of the eighth, Brooks Raley had a terrific inning, striking out the three batters he faced.

Houston rallies ahead in the eighth for the four-game sweep

The top of Houston's order mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out to try and regain the lead. Yuli Gurriel would come through with the go-ahead at-bat, getting a sac fly to put the Astros back in front 3-2. A two-out walk loaded the bases again, setting up Chas McCormick to provide two insurance runs on a two-RBI single.

Myles Straw added one more on an RBI single, making it a four-run game at 6-2 heading to the ninth. Enoli Paredes made his long-awaited return from the IL, appearing for the first time since April 8th to try and close things out in the ninth. He tossed a scoreless inning, finishing off the four-game sweep, extending Houston's winning streak to six games, and keeping them in step with Oakland for the AL West lead.

Up Next: After a day off on Monday, the Astros will begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday. They'll kick off a three-game set in Oakland against the A's at 8:40 PM, an exciting matchup to determine who will head into the weekend atop the division. While Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is the expected starter for Houston, Oakland has not yet determined their rotation for the series.

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