Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Female Astro fans react to Osuna trade

Astros fans had a mixed reaction to the Osuna deal. Elsa/Getty Images

The Astros made a move for more bullpen. However, it was controversial to say the least. They traded for Blue Jays reliever Roberto Osuna. Yes, the Osuna of the 75-game suspension for a domestic violence incident.

As one would expect, #AstrosTwitter was ablaze. Opinions from all over ranged from utter disgust, to the nonchalant “who cares” opines. When analyzing the landscape, I decided to ask some lady friends for their thoughts on the subject. They’re all huge sports fans with varied backgrounds jobs, and thought processes. Some of you may recognize the Twitter handles. If not, I suggest you give them a follow:

*Disclaimer: If you harass these women for giving their opinion, you will be reported! Tread lightly. I don’t take kindly to that kind of stuff.

@PinkValkyrie: “I don’t like it. I’m surprised the Astros picked him up knowing he is still dealing with this case. Astros have come across as a class organization so this seems like they are strictly thinking about winning. I believe in second chances and I feel like it would have been better for Luhnow to say ‘we got him and his salary that he didn’t get will get donated to X charity, he is going to be volunteer at women’s shelter, he is working on himself to be a better human being’ but all I heard was they have a ‘zero tolerance policy’ but only if they are an Astro. Came off incredibly callous and tone deaf. Very alienating to female fans.” You can hear a more in depth response from her as she called into The Usual Suspects (7-31-18 first hour, around the 42:48 mark).

Anonymous: “I think it seems like something that could completely throw the clubhouse into upheaval. I can’t imagine it sits well within. People idolize their teams in an unrealistic, Pollyanna way. They don’t see the business for what it is: a business. I just think it’s a difficult situation all around. We’ve probably cheered for more people than we would like to admit...that do not have a pristine record (and I don’t mean criminal). There are more things that are settled under the table and out of the news than we know about. So yeah, you can call me cynical, and I’ll probably call you naive. I know I’m ‘supposed’ to react by being disgusted and outraged, but sorry, very little surprises me and doesn’t affect my day to day.”

@The_Claire_Bear: “It's a bad move for fans and likely for players. Second chances are wonderful but this whole incident barely happened a couple of months ago. Let him prove that was a mistake instead of a character flaw somewhere else. Go after him later. Luhnow's job is to win. I get that. But I think he miscalculation the effect this will have on his team and fans. The fans, not so much. Seems like most just want to win. But I suspect the clubhouse is having a really hard time with the situation. I sense a few of them feel really betrayed by being put in this situation. At the same time, they're paid millions of dollars to play ball so I'm sure team execs are just like: make it work.”

@swanlakelibra: “I hate the hypocrisy and bullsh--. Just own it. You're about winning nothing else (at any cost). And stop BS'ing women (includes all sports leagues) about giving a damn on domestic violence. Don't give me that BS about second chances. We don't know all the facts. I've heard too much of on here and saw the last that men dgaf about athletes beating/raping women as long as players are good (you need knuckleheads to win). We're winning so why would I expect the organization to feel differently, it's run by men. What I will say is I don't want to hear NO MORE bitching and crying, protesting about police violence on Black Men! F--- IT! Just get y'all asses on the field, court or wherever do your damn jobs since that's all that matters. Stop bitching about Trump, McNair, and Jerry Jones! Men on here (Twitter reference), especially Black athletes bitching about being told to stand and police brutality against Black men but don't see MFers protesting or taking knees or extorting $100M from league for domestic violence. Like I said my major issue is with the hypocrisy. Just give it to me straight. Luhnow BS about Zero Tolerance but it only counts if they do while a member of the team is really a punch in the face and stomach.”

@xoholly: “I think it’s awkward and there’s a good chance it throws off the chemistry of the team. A lot of guys don’t sit well w/ domestic violence. Personally I don’t know the full details on his abuse charge. Not that it’s right by ANY means but pics/video helps people on the outside looking in if that makes sense. I know it sounds bad but I like to see evidence. Too many shady chicks framing before pics or video is leaked. Now if I see pics, f---ing right he’s a POS!”

As you can see, the opinions vary. I believe women’s voices should be on matters like this. You may have noticed that from my article last week, I feel some type of way about women in sports. When your grandmother taught you how to talk trash, your aunt pushed you hard to be better, and your other aunt taught you to suck it up and be a man, you’ll feel that way. I wanted to present this without any fluff or filler. Just the opinions of a few ladies that I know and respect.

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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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