Is Gordon's time up?

Exploring trade possibilities for the Rockets and Eric Gordon

Time to make a deal? Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Rockets could possibly make a splash in the upcoming offseason, which is needed because the Western Conference will get tougher. Since the end of the Rockets' season, GM Daryl Morey has been consistently looking for the next head coach. In this week coming up, Morey has interviews with Ty Lue, Jeff Van Gundy, and John Lucas. After the coaching search is over, Morey will possibly look for trade companions before next season starts.

So, will Morey decide to deal Eric Gordon and/or Danuel House to bring in more acquisitions for the Rockets?

Possibly trading House and Gordon for Myles Turner or Bradly Beal is a great idea if Morey decides to go after them. The 24-year-old Turner provides length inside the paint, can stretch the floor with his shooting, and is a great finisher inside the paint. Turner finished top five in blocks, shot 34 percent from three, and was 75 percent at the free-throw line last season. In his career with the Pacers, Turner averaged 13 points per game, including 7 rebounds as well.

Tuner would use his abilities to shoot and slash towards the basket for the Rockets, including being a great lob partner for James Harden. Bringing Turner to the Rockets will bring a slight reminder of Clint Capela because of his ability to run the floor.

The 27-year-old Beal could be a longshot for the Rockets but it's worth a try. Offering Gordon and House could be an eye-opener for the Wizards' front office. The Wizards have still not broken the barrier with John Wall and Beal. In the last eight seasons with Beal, the Wizards made the playoffs four times, and only making it to Eastern Semifinals twice, including Wall missing the last two seasons because of injuries. Beal also decided not to join the Wizards in the bubble after the NBA's four-month hiatus.

It's no surprise if the two-time All-Star decides to push for a trade in the offseason. Beal averaged 31 points per game last season for the Wizards, which was second behind Harden. In the Rockets' offense, Beal has enough ability to create his own shot and make open looks. If the Rockets' offensive system is built for creativity and iso ball, Beal would be a perfect fit. This trade also depends on the Rockets' next head coach and flexibility in finances. Harden and Westbrook are desperately looking for another consistent scorer, so why not Beal?

The fact that Gordon had a career low in shooting and struggled with injuries this season, should not be ignored by Morey. During the playoffs inside the bubble, House reportedly violated the NBA's visitor rule, meaning no unknown guest in the hotel room. As the situation occurred, House was eventually removed from the bubble, which hurt the Rockets against the Lakers.

In the end, dealing both players would make sense for the Rockets if they want to remain relevant in the Western Conference.

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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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