THE SEC REPORT

The SEC Report: A&M continues its points explosion, Alabama’s championship run takes a hit and Georgia is in the playoff conversation

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

LAST WEEKEND

The Aggies continued their offensive expressions of dominance against South Carolina, who went home trying to figure out who they made so angry to cause a 30-6 game and how do they apologize? Georgia beat Auburn in a good game and has slowly crawled its way into the top 4 nationally giving the Bulldogs a shot at the playoffs as the season winds down. Alabama's season took a turn for the worst as state treasure Tua Tagovailoa's season ended abruptly and painfully Saturday with a dislocated hip. LSU continued its reign of terror over the SEC as they scored 58 against Ole Miss.

STARS OF LAST WEEKEND

Christopher Rodriguez Jr, Runningback of Kentucky: Nn a game Kentucky needed desperately their stud running back ran for 129 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries. Moby Dick couldn't be a bigger monster than this kid last weekend.

Georgia's Defense: Seriously they were playing Auburn and held them scoreless through three quarters of football and then after Auburn got a little momentum going, they were able to rally and get a couple of late stops in the game to help keep the lead late and secure the victory.

John Rhys Plumlee, quarterback of Ole Miss: OK obviously, Ole Miss lost and Joe Burrow continued his Heisman hunt with five passing touchdowns but I feel like if I don't act least acknowledge Plumlee's 212 yards and four, yeah, FOUR touchdowns on 21 carries then it's a crime against good football. So Burrow was great, but Plumlee was amazing.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND

This week Texas A&M takes on the role of heartbreakers looking to stop Georgia's low-key end around past Alabama in the rankings. Georgia got the biggest gift in the world with Tua going down and now the rankings aren't as in love with Saban's Crimson Tide as they were a week ago. The Aggies are on the road but they can ruin The Bulldogs perfect storm of a season. Also worth watching is West Carolina coming to Alabama, now before you say anything, hear me out. Alabama's defense hasn't been up to championship standards all year and the team has looked vulnerable for the first time in a while, heck they lost a regular season game! They need a good game to remind themselves that they are Alabama, this is either going to be a masterpiece in coaching and head games or actually tough to watch. LSU hosts Arkansas and unless the Razorback offense can hold the ball for 30 minutes themselves this game, the Tigers will probably hang 50 on them.

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Isaiah Spiller, Runningback of Texas A&M: So this season Kellen Mond was supposed to be the leader but by now it looks like they need someone else on crucial downs and plays and a great running game can control the tempo of a game and keep the other team on their heels. Long drives, touchdowns to finish and then defensive stands are how A&M can bury the Bulldogs.

D'Andre Swift, Running back of Georgia: This is the week where they don't want mistakes or turnovers. All they want to do is go out there and in their last big test of the season just execute the plays and rack up the yards and the scores.

Joe Burrow, Quarterback of LSU: Honestly by now this is almost just personal, I like this kid and would like to see him win the Heisman. LSU is having a magical run and he's hitting 78.6% of his throws, he's making great reads and handling the rising pressure week after week as the spotlight intensifies.

Feel free to check out my brand-new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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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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