Culture / Sporting Life

No Excuses Alex Bregman Helps Drive the Astros’ Relentless Standards — Who’s Tired?

The Obsession Over Bregman's Hitting Status Overshadows What His Intensity Means

BY // 05.25.22

Alex Bregman looks at excuses the way kids look at broccoli, the way Ashton Kutcher looks at showers. Bregman wants nothing to do with them. So when Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker mentions that he thinks the Astros look “low energy” in a 6-1 loss to the Cleveland Guardians, a reasonable musing considering the team is near the end of a stretch of 33 games in 34 days, Bregman essentially dismisses the idea.

In fact, he batted it down like Dikembe Mutombo used to swat away shots.

Then, Bregman went and helped prove his point the very next night, lacing a double into the outfield near the line to drive in two runs in the Astros’ very Astros-like 7-3 bounce back win over the Guardians Tuesday night. Bregman is one of the prouder players on one of baseball’s true put-in-the-work teams, a group that prides itself on bringing it game after game after game.

In fact, that’s one of the defining characteristics of this Astros’ near dynasty (that 2017 title, two other World Series runs and five straight American League Championship Series appearances). These Astros don’t take nights off as a team. No matter how tired the schedule — or reality — says they should be.

This is the most consistently entertaining and full effort franchise in all of Texas pro sports. And don’t bring up the Dallas Cowboys. During this Astros run, they haven’t come close to matching Jose Altuve and Co.’s relentless intensity. And the Dallas Mavericks fluctuate more than Luka Doncic‘s weight.

These Astros are the gold standard.

Bregman is a big part of creating a gritty, hard working, no excuses team. That is what he’s all about. He’s fought through injuries for two seasons without ever attempting to use any of them as an alibi. In many ways, this young 28-year-old MLB vet is an old school player in almost every sense. You can imagine a guy like Jeff Bagwell getting a kick out of playing with an Alex Bregman type.

Someone who treats the idea that the Astros might be tired like a potential excuse that needs to smacked down. Even near the end of 33 games in 34 days.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Bregman says after the 6-1 loss on the Astros feeling a low energy drain. “I wouldn’t say it’s the games, no. I think we just got beat tonight. And you tip your hat to them and you come back tomorrow ready to go.

“And the guys in here do a great job of turning the page and getting after it the next day.”

The Astros do with that 7-3 win, upping their record to 17-5 in their last 22 games. This isn’t a team that lets itself feel tired. Just ask the Texas Rangers, who came off Martin Perez’s complete game shutdown of the Astros with manager Chris Woodward hoping and believing that the win could “start to create a little belief in there like we can bully the bully maybe.”

Then, the Astros promptly turned around and bullied the Rangers again for the last two games of the series, a deflating that Woodward’s team still might not have completely recovered from. Texas lost its third straight game in Anaheim on Tuesday night while the Astros put up seven runs against Cleveland.

Bregman is no small part of that — as he often is. Even with many seemingly fretting about his hitting — the Chronicle posted a story on his “slump” on Tuesday afternoon, the night after he homered — the near 2019 AL MVP still has 26 RBI. That’s second on the team to only budding superstar Kyle Tucker.

Bregman may never hit 41 home runs in a season again as he did in 2019. But that’s not the point. The Astros don’t need a 40 home run Alex Bregman. They may not need a 30 home run Bregman. They just need the never-give-in hitter who laces the ball around the yard.

The 51 doubles Bregman hit in 2018 could very much be in play again soon. Maybe, even this season. Bregman now has 11 doubles in 179 plate appearances this season after having only 17 in 400 plate appearances last year.

Being Alex Bregman is Enough

Bregman is not Yordan Alvarez. He’s not an ultra powerful, ultra athletic force that’s going to hit some of the longest home runs you’ll ever see. But Bregman can still do plenty of damage by doing things his way. You’re not the No. 2 overall pick in an MLB draft without being immensely talented.

And few players talk about hitting in a more analytical fashion than Bregman.

“Just squared up,” Bregman says of his Monday night home run. “That’s me working on things I’m working on. Felt a little bit better today and just each day moving forward continuing to do that.”

Bregman almost sounds like a young Tiger Woods talking about his golf swing, always working on something, looking for a tweak or adjustment that can bring some improvement. Big or small.

During the debut of the new “Space City” Connect uniforms, the Houston Astroswere shut out 6-0 to superstar Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim at Minute Maid Park
The Astros’ already hugely popular Space City uniforms look even better when Alex Bregman is swinging well. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

It seems like a pretty safe assumption that the best of Alex Bregman in this 2022 season is still to come. In the meantime, Bregman is still getting on base at a .346 clip, still driving in runs and doing damage.

The Astros don’t need a 40 home run Alex Bregman. They may not need a 30 home run Bregman. They just need the never-give-in hitter who laces the ball around the yard.

Just as importantly, he’s helping the Astros keep the relentless, never-give-in, what’s-tired attitude that has defined this golden run of Houston baseball. One night after Bregman swats away any “low energy” talk, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado admits he is tired. With 33 games in 34 days, how could you not be?

But to Alex Bregman, it’s just baseball. You show up every day, put in the work, do your best and turn around and do it the next day with just as much intensity. That is Bregman ball. That is Astros ball. And if you think that’s a mere coincidence, you haven’t been paying attention.

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