Tag Archives: Alex Bregman

Five Phillies have been named the NL Most Valuable Player

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Klein was the National League MVP in 1932 and finished as runner-up in both 1931 and 1933

 

Major League Baseball will conclude the process of handing out hardware to the 2019 award winners on Thursday with the naming of the National and American League Most Valuable Players.

In a televised announcement on the MLB Network beginning at 6:00 pm EST, the official BBWAA award winners will be announced.

As has been the case all week, the IBWAA (internet writers/bloggers) named their winners during the afternoon.

 

This year’s three finalists for the BBWAA honors in the National League are outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger of the LA Dodgers, third baseman Anthony Rendon of the world champion Washington Nationals, and outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, the latter of whom as last year’s winner.

Over in the American League the finalists are third baseman Alex Bregman of the pennant-winning Houston Astros, shortstop Marcus Semien of the Oakland A’s, and outfielder Mike Trout of the LA Angels. Trout is a two-time AL MVP and four-time runner-up for the honors.

My thought is that Bellinger will win the NL MVP honors. But my pick would be Rendon. The Nationals turned their season around after a miserable first seven weeks, put up the NL’s best record over the final four months, and won the first world championship in franchise history. Rendon’s productive bat and outstanding play at the hot corner were keys.

In the American League, there is little doubt that Trout is baseball’s best all-around player. But this is not the “Most Outstanding Player” award, it’s for the most valuable. The Halos finished 18 games below the .500 mark and in fourth place. Bregman is similarly outstanding, and his club won. But he was surrounded by easily the best and deepest lineup in the league.

Semien is nowhere near as well known in wider baseball circles. However, his value to the NL West runners-up in leading the small-market Athletics to the postseason for a second straight year is worthy of the award: 33 homers, 83 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, 123 runs scored and outstanding defensive play at shortstop helped add up to 8.1 total WAR. He would be my choice.

The origins of a formal Most Valuable Player in baseball can be traced back to the 1911 season, and an early automobile manufacturer by the name of Hugh Chalmers.

Chalmers company presented a vehicle to the player with the highest batting average after the 1910 season. For 1911 he instituted the Chalmers Award, with a baseball writer’s committee formed to select what was described as the “most important and useful player to the club and to the league“.

The Chalmers Award was handed out following the next four seasons from 1911-14, and the winners are a who’s who of Hall of Famers: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, and Eddie Collins. As World War I began and national attention diverted to the effort that summer, the award was discontinued after the 1914 season.

The American League decided to hand out an award beginning in 1922 to “the baseball player who is of the greatest all-around service to his club“. It was voted on by a baseball writer’s committee, and players were only allowed to win one time.

That award lasted for seven seasons. Hall of Famer George Sisler won the first, and Johnson took the honors in 1924. A pair of legendary New York Yankees stars, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, won the award for the 1923 and 1927 seasons. The first Philadelphia ball player, Mickey Cochrane of the Athletics, won the final award in 1928.

The National League followed suit in 1924 with an award that lasted through the 1929 season, but the NL allowed a player to win multiple times. This resulted in Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby winning in both 1925 and 1929.

For the 1931 season, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) began to hand out the honors that have lasted through today.  In the NL, the Phillies’ Chuck Klein won in 1932 and finished as runner-up in the voting in both 1931 and 1933.

Philadelphia Athletics ball players captured the first three AL awards, with pitcher Lefty Grove winning in 1931 and then slugger Jimmie Foxx taking it in 1932 and 1933. The A’s would get one more AL MVP winner before leaving town, with southpaw pitcher Bobby Shantz earning the honors in 1952.

Foxx would win again in 1938 for his performance that season with the Boston Red Sox. He is one of only four three-time winners in the American League, joining Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez. Trout will try to join that list tonight.

In the National League, Barry Bonds captured the award seven times. Next in line are a list of four three-time winners including Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, and Albert Pujols.

The other three-time winner in the NL is the greatest player in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history, Michael Jack Schmidt.

Mike Schmidt won the National League Most Valuable Player award for his performances in the 1980, 1981, and 1986 seasons. Ernie Banks in 1958-59, Joe Morgan in 1975-76, Dale Murphy in 1982-83, Bonds in 1992-93, and Pujols in 2008-09 are the other back-to-back NL winners. Yelich will try to join those ranks tonight. Bonds also had a stretch of four straight wins 2001-04.

A pitcher with the 1950 Phillies “Whiz Kids” National League championship club, Jim Konstanty was honored with the NL MVP that season, and remains the only reliever to ever win the Most Valuable Player honors. Konstanty received 18 of 24 first-place votes that year to win comfortably over Musial.

How did a relief pitcher capture the honors? Well, it would be hard to argue against Konstanty’s value to the NL pennant winners. He won 16 games and recorded 22 saves while tossing 152 innings and allowing just 108 hits across 74 games, all out of the bullpen.

With Klein, Konstanty, and the three Schmidt honors, that leaves two more Phillies National League Most Valuable Players. Those two were teammates who captured the honors in back-to-back seasons.

In 2006, first baseman Ryan Howard, who had won the NL Rookie of the Year award the prior season, won in a reasonably close vote over Pujols. Howard received 20 first-place votes while Pujols got the other 12, with Howard winning the overall vote by 388-347.

The following year, shortstop Jimmy Rollins predicted before the season began that the Phillies were “the team to beat” in the NL East Division. The club had fallen short despite contending over the prior half-dozen years, and had not won a division crown in 14 seasons.

JRoll backed up his prediction with an MVP performance. He became the first player in big-league history to record 20+ home runs (30), doubles (38), triples (20), and stolen bases (41) and scored 139 runs. Despite such an outstanding season, Rollins win was tight, edging out Matt Holliday of the Rockies by 353-336. Rollins received 16 first-place votes to 11 for Holliday.

A pair of current Phillies players have National League Most Valuable Player awards in their home trophy case. Andrew McCutchen won the award in 2013 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing third in both 2012 and 2014. Bryce Harper was the unanimous winner in 2015 as a member of the Washington Nationals.

Who will be the next Philadelphia Phillies player to take home the NL Most Valuable Player Award? At just age 27, Harper would seem to be the most logical candidate. If he can do it, he would add his name to a list that includes just 11 players in winning the award multiple times during a career.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

 

Time for Phillies to give Alec Bohm a full shot to start in 2020

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It is only a matter of time before Bohm’s powerful bat is impacting the Phillies lineup

 

The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series and are now playing in their third consecutive American League Championship Series. They won 107 games this season, most in Major League Baseball.

Whether they ultimately capture another title this year or not, Houston is the current model organization in MLB. The folks who run their ball club clearly know what they are doing.

Shortstop Carlos Correa was the first overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter in 2015 at age 20.

Third baseman Alex Bregman was the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He became a big-league starter by the following July at age 22.

Second baseman Jose Altuve was signed by Houston as a free agent out of Venezuela at age 16 in 2007. By July of 2011 at age 21 he was a big-league regular.

Yordan Alvarez spent his rookie season in MLB this year as the Astros primary Designated Hitter. He blasted 27 home runs while slashing .313/.412/.655 at age 22.

The point? There is no reason that talented ball players aged 20-22 should be held back from their Major League Baseball debut simply due to their birth date.

In fact, more than ever, professional baseball is a game for players in their 20’s. Getting as many of those years as possible out of your best players is becoming more and more important.

The old way of MLB teams holding young players back in order to gain more years of contractual control should be considered as antiquated thinking.

If a young player demonstrates that he is going to be valuable to your organization, the strategy should be to buy them out of a few free agent years by paying them more at a younger age, as the Phillies have done with Scott Kingery.

In 2018, the Phillies made third baseman Alec Bohm their choice at third overall in the MLB Draft. He was billed as an advanced college bat whose hitting ability and maturity could allow him to quickly reach the big-leagues.

When spring training opens at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida four months from now, there is absolutely no reason that a 23-year-old Bohm should not be the Phillies annointed starter at the hot corner.

Not waiting until May or June after receiving six, eight, ten weeks of experience against Triple-A pitching. Not later in the summer. Not next September when rosters expand. Right away, in Clearwater.

During his first full professional season this year, Bohm demonstrated the hitting ability that had made him such a high pick. He slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs and 55 extra-base hits across 540 plate appearances while rising through three minor league levels.

No more authoritative hitting expert than former Phillies World Series winning manager Charlie Manuel had this to say regarding Bohm’s hitting ability earlier this year:

He’s going to hit. He’s going to be a line-drive hitter with power. He’s going to be an RBI guy. He’s a tough out. I liked him in college and like him even more now.

One question mark regarding Bohm’s status at the time of his selection was defense. Would he ever become a good enough defender at third base to stick at the position at the MLB level?

This past May, Bohm was named as the Phillies organization minor league defense player of the month. In late June, Mike Drago of The Reading Eagle quoted him regarding his work at the position:

I worked a lot at third base, and on defense (in the offseason), not to prove anybody wrong, but to be the best player I can be. It’s paid off.

Drago also noted that when Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover brought up the fact that some had questioned his defensive chops at the time of his draft selection, Bohm responded: “Those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.

The Phillies minor league infield coordinator Chris Truby, whose four big-league seasons in the early-2000’s included playing in 242 games at the hot corner himself, had this to say per Drago regarding Bohm’s commitment to defense:

I don’t know that he’s ever taken defense as seriously as he is now. He has made tremendous strides since Instructional League (in September 2018). He’s taking this defense thing personally.

By July, Manuel was absolutely gushing about Bohm’s offensive ability. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted the hitting guru on the club’s prospect:

I think when it’s all said and done and his career balances out where it should be, I’m looking at a guy who is going to hit anywhere from .285 to .300 and hit anywhere from 25 to 30 to 40 home runs. It depends on how many he happens to catch that season.”

For his strong 2019 performance, Bohm was named as the Phillies minor league player of the year. In late August for Baseball America, Salisbury quoted Phillies director of player development Josh Bonifay:

Day in and day out, he’s continued to show why the organization believed in him. His ability to command the strike zone and do damage on pitches is impressive. You make a mistake, whether it’s on the heater or a breaking ball, and he’ll hit it hard somewhere. He’s a line-drive hitter who drives the ball with carry. He uses the whole field. He’s fun to watch.”

The Phillies sent Bohm to the Arizona Fall League in September where he became a starter in the annual Fall Stars Game. Josh Norris of Baseball America opined the following after watching Bohm’s performance in the AFL:

Gifted with the tools to become a classic corner-infield masher, Bohm’s .390 average places him third in the AFL through games of October 8.

MLB Pipeline now ranks Bohm as the top third base prospect in the game. But Jim Callis of MLB.com, while praising Bohm’s bat, still has questions on the defense when he wrote the following:

To get to the big leagues, Bohm will need to continue refining his defense at the hot corner. He has enough arm strength for the position, but his range is fringy and he lacks consistency. He made a wide throw on a seventh-inning grounder Sunday, his third error in six AFL games in the field after making 12 miscues in 83 regular-season contests.”

First base is not available in Philadelphia. Rhys Hoskins turns 27-years-old in March, just beginning the prime of this career. Hoskins is not scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2023 season.

Hoskins is a relatively inexpensive and powerful bat for an organization that already has spent a lot of money in free agency and is likely to spend a lot more in the next couple of years.

Incumbent third baseman Maikel Franco has legitimate 25-30 home run power and will spend much of the 2020 season still at just age 26. But his overall ceiling is nowhere near as high as Bohm, and Franco will likely be used as trade bait this coming winter.

The Phillies have a reputation as being notoriously slow in giving their top prospects a shot at the big leagues. But that reputation is beginning to fall by the way side.

Aaron Nola was the Phillies first round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft at seventh overall as an advanced college pitcher. He debuted in the big-leagues the following summer and was a regular member of the starting rotation at age 23 in 2016.

Adam Haseley was the Phillies top pick at eighth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft. He appeared in 67 games and was playing regularly by the end of the 2019 season at age 23. While a better outfield defender than Bohm will be in the infield, Haseley’s bat is nowhere near as advanced or impactful.

The Phillies need these types of exciting, inexpensive, homegrown talents to begin impacting their lineup as soon as possible. Bohm is plenty old enough and appears mature enough to handle the big-league lifestyle. His confidence and talent are undeniable.

Bottom line, there is no reason that Alec Bohm should not be the Philadelphia Phillies starter at third base right out of the gate in the 2020 season.

MLB awards: my 2018 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA 2018 MLB awards ballot time
Back in 2009 the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) was originally, and perhaps fittingly, founded on Independence Day “to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)” per the organization home site.
At the end of each regular season, each member in good standing receives an awards ballot and is tasked with voting for a top 10 for Most Valuable Player of the National and American Leagues.
We are also tasked with voting in each league for a top five in the Cy Young Award, as well as a top three in each of three further categories: top manager, top reliever, and Rookie of the Year.
This will be the fourth year that I’ve had a vote in the IBWAA annual awards balloting. As with each of the last three years, I’m now publicly releasing my ballot. As always, I’m sure that you would choose differently. I would love to hear your choices for each of the awards. Please feel free to leave a comment below this piece with your own selections.
The IBWAA is scheduled to begin announcing the winners of its awards in mid-November. Our editorial director here at Phillies Nation, Tim Kelly, released his own ballot just yesterday which included some of the reasoning behind his selections.
I’m not going to defend my choices, just simply presenting my ballot for your edification. However, I will let you in on this: I don’t vote for pitchers for Most Valuable Player. I’ve heard, appreciate, and respect all arguments to the contrary. I respectfully disagree with them all.
For me, a player who takes the field every single day to hit and field his position is always going to be more valuable than one who plays every five days. Also, there is a stand-alone award for the best pitcher that is not available to position players.
Also, my MVP votes are always going to be prejudiced towards players whose teams actually win something. Win your division, or at the very least capture a Wildcard playoff berth.
I don’t care if you hit 70 home runs for a last place team. They could have finished in last without your contribution. This is Most “Valuable”, not Most “Outstanding” Player. MLB gives out the Hank Aaron Award to the top hitter in each league. The MVP needs something more to win it on my ballot, and one thing they need is to have helped their team win.
So now it’s time to reveal my own ballot. I’ll first show my top choice to actually win the award, and then the entire ballot for each category.

First-year skipper Snitker guided the Braves to their first NL East crown in five years. (Photo: Bbqsauce13)
NL Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
  1. Snitker
  2. Bud Black
  3. Craig Counsell
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
  1. Melvin
  2. Kevin Cash
  3. Joey Cora
NL Top Relief Pitcher: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Hader
  2. Wade Davis
  3. Kenley Jansen


Diaz (R) was baseball’s top reliever by a wide margin in the 2018 season. (Photo: Keith Allison)
AL Top Relief Pitcher: Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
  1. Diaz
  2. Blake Treinen
  3. Craig Kimbrel
NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
  1. Acuna
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Jack Flaherty
AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
  1. Andujar
  2. Joey Wendle
  3. Shohei Ohtani

Nola is a worthy NL Cy Young Award candidate and received this vote.
NL Cy Young Award: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
  1. Nola
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Max Scherzer
  4. Kyle Freeland
  5. Jameson Taillon
AL Cy Young Award: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
  1. Snell
  2. Chris Sale
  3. Corey Kluber
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Trevor Bauer

Bregman broke out to help the champion Astros remain a top contender. (Photo: Udeezy)
NL Most Valuable Player: Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Yelich
  2. Javier Baez
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Matt Carpenter
  5. Lorenzo Cain
  6. Nolan Arenado
  7. Justin Turner
  8. Paul Goldschmidt
  9. Trevor Story
  10. Anthony Rendon
AL Most Valuable Player: Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
  1. Bregman
  2. Francisco Lindor
  3. Mookie Betts
  4. Matt Chapman
  5. Jose Ramirez
  6. J.D. Martinez
  7. Aaron Judge
  8. Mike Trout
  9. Whit Merrifield
  10. Didi Gregorius
Originally published by Phillies Nation as “Matt Veasey’s 2018 IBWAA awards ballot

Astros threaten to make a mockery of AL West race

The rampaging Houston Astros are threatening to make a mockery of the American League West Division race, and we’re only six weeks into the 2017 Major League Baseball regular season.
The Astros have jumped out to a 25-11 record through games of Friday, May 13. That is the best record in baseball, and leaves the club eight games in front of their nearest divisional rivals.
Since their Saturday afternoon matchup with the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium was rained out, Houston will take that mark into a makeup day-night doubleheader on Sunday.
Part of the equation in building such a huge lead has been that their chief expected challenger for the AL West crown, the in-state rival Texas Rangers, have been decimated by key injuries.
However, that takes nothing away from what Houston has been able to accomplish of their own accord. With 173 runs scored, the Astros are third in the American League. The cumulative pitching staff Batting Average Against is just .226, the best mark in all of baseball.

TOP OF THE ROTATION A TOUGH 1-2 COMBO

“We know what we’re capable of,” said pitcher Lance McCullers, per Mike Fitzpatrick of the Associated Press. “We can do some pretty cool things if everyone does their job.
McCullers comments came after the righty had tossed six shutout innings to help Houston to a 5-1 victory over the Bronx Bombers on Friday night. New York had entered that game tied with the Astros and the Baltimore Orioles with 11 losses, fewest in MLB to this point.
The 1-2 punch at the top of the starting pitching rotation has been a leading reason for Houston’s dominance. McCullers is 3-1 with a 2.92 FIP and 1.117 WHIP with a 57/13 K:BB ratio over 48.1 innings. And the 23-year old hasn’t even been the Astros top starter.
That distinction goes to 29-year old Dallas Keuchel. The lefty was the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for April. Keuchel is 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.869 WHIP, and has a 50-17 K:BB ratio. He has yielded just 37 hits over his first 58.2 innings.

ASTROS VERSATILE OFFENSIVE ATTACK

The Houston offensive attack is extremely versatile and deep, led by an AL All-Star in three of the last five years. With three straight Silver Sluggers in his trophy case, second baseman Jose Altuve is off to another strong start. Altuve is hitting .298 with a .367 on-base percentage. His nine steals lead the club. His 21 runs scored are tied for the team lead.
Talented 22-year old shortstop Carlos Correa also has scored 21 times. His 20 RBI are second on the team, and his 15 extra-base hits lead all Astros hitters.
Center fielder George Springer has 21 runs scored as well. His seven home runs are tops in the lineup, and his 20 RBI leave him tied for second with Correa.
Veteran catcher Brian McCann was a big off-season trade acquisition from those Yankees. The 7x All-Star and 5x Silver Slugger winner is proving that he is still a threat at 33-years of age. McCann has a .381 on-base percentage. He is third on the club with a half-dozen homers, and leads Houston with 21 RBI.
Josh Reddick signed a four-year, $52 million free agent contract this past off-season. The 30-year old right fielder has hit for a .291 average. Reddick has produced 10 extra-base hits, 18 runs scored, and 16 RBI.

IMPORTANT BENCH PIECE

23-year old third baseman Alex Bregman got off to a cold start to the season. But since April 11, Bregman is hitting .293 with a .383 on-base percentage. However, the youngster has yet to prove that he can deliver any pop from the hot corner. Bregman is still searching for his first home run of the year.
Bregman and high-profile Cuban signee Yuli Gurriel have been producing modest numbers at the corner infield positions.
Into the breech has stepped Marwin Gonzalez, providing tremendous versatility and unexpected offensive production. Gonzalez leads the Astros with nine home runs. His 21 RBI have him tied for the club lead with McCann. On defense, he has stepped in at five different positions.
“I can pinch-hit for anybody because I have Gonzalez,” manager A.J. Hinch said per John Perrotto of Fan Rag Sports“If Carlos Beltran’s on the bench and Marwin is on the bench, I can hit Beltran whenever I want because Marwin can cover. He can cover center, right, left, all infield positions.”

SOME BULLPEN INCONSISTENCY

Chris DevenskiWill HarrisMichael Feliz, and Brad Peacock (before the latter’s recent demotion to AAA) have all been reliable options out of the bullpen for manager A.J. Hinch.
Meanwhile, closer Ken Giles, setup man Luke Gregerson, and top lefty Tony Sipp have been the most inconsistent pieces to that bullpen mix. If they can become more consistent, Houston may never be challenged in the division all season long.
In their just released new Top 100 Prospects ranking, Baseball America placed five Houston youngsters among the top 67 on their list. With four starting position players, three starting pitchers, and four members of the pen all in their 20’s, the Astros figure to remain contenders for a long time to come.


Everything is going right so far for the Houston Astros in the 2017 season. Every team hits some bumps in the road over a long 162-game season. But if Houston doesn’t start hitting a couple real soon, they may make even more of a mockery out of the AL West race than it has already become.


Alex Bregman struggling thus far with the Houston Astros

Scouts have mixed opinions on upside of Alex Bregman
The Houston Astros are off to a red hot start to the 2017 MLB regular season. After games of May 1, the Astros have carved out a 17-9 record. 
That mark is the third-best in all of baseball, and has the club sitting three and a half games up in the AL West Division.
For the most part, it has been pitching that has put Houston on top. The Astros staff has a .227 cumulative Batting Average Against, tied for the top mark in the game. Their 3.33 ERA is second to only the surprising Chicago White Sox pitching staff.
Meanwhile, the Houston offense has left room to grow. Despite the second-best OPS in the American League, the club is just fifth in runs scored and eighth in home runs.
Those aren’t marks that leave the Astros struggling. Remember, they’re in first place comfortably at the moment. But there is one spot in the lineup that has been a bit troublesome.
At third base, 23-year old Alex Bregman was expected to play a big role this year. Bregman was the Astros’ first round pick at second overall in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft out of LSU.

DEBUT COINCIDES WITH HOUSTON FADE

Bregman made his big league debut in late July of last season, and has been the club’s starting third baseman most of the time since that promotion.
Over 217 plate appearances over 49 games during that rookie campaign, Bregman hit for a .264/.313/.478 slash. He contributed eight homers, scored 31 times, and drove in 34 runs.
Bregman’s presence didn’t help Houston in the standings a year ago. When he was called up, the Astros were nine games over .500 in second place, just three and a half off the division lead. With him in the lineup, the club staggered home to a 30-34 finish, falling to third place, and were 11 games back at the end.
That collapse can hardly be laid at the feet of the rookie. And by the same token, little of the hot start to the 2017 season by the team is due to his contributions.

SLOW TO PRODUCE IN 2017

This spring, the 23-year old Bregman was the youngest player on the roster for the American team that finally captured a World Baseball Classic title. He appeared in just two games for Team USA.
Back at spring training with the Astros, Bregman hit just .261 with no home runs, three runs scored, and just a single RBI in 46 at-bats over 14 games.
Thus far in 2017, Bregman is hitting for a .253/.347/.310 slash line with no…that’s zero…home runs. He has produced just five doubles, scored just seven times, and knocked in just six runs over the first four weeks of the season.

SOCIAL MEDIA ROOKIE MISTAKE

Prior to the start of a series with the heated rival Texas Rangers this week, Bregman took some heat himself over a Twitter posting on Sunday evening.
The hashtag supposedly stands for “Beat The Snot Out Of The Rangers”, which he later called a “rookie mistake” according to a piece by for MLB.com by T.R. Sullivan and Brian McTaggart.
“I made a rookie mistake. I shouldn’t have tweeted that out. It was more of just trying to fire up our team. I shouldn’t have put it on social media at all. They have a great team over there. I didn’t mean to offend anybody over there….They had our number last year. This year is a new year. Just a rookie mistake. I didn’t mean to offend anybody over there. It was more of just trying to motivate our team. Poorly-worded, obviously. I misspelled a word — another rookie mistake there.”
The Astros would defeat the Rangers in the series opener on Monday night by a 6-2 score. But the game deteriorated into a bit of a beanball war, as Houston appeared determined to send a further message to the Rangers that this season will be different than a year ago.

TRYING TO OVERCOME RECENT RANGERS DOMINANCE

In 2016, Texas rolled up a 15-4 head-to-head record on their divisional and in-state rivals. The Rangers won the AL West for a second straight season, their fourth division crown in seven years.
The Astros, a preseason favorite of many prognosticators after nearly knocking off the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals in the 2015 playoffs, missed out on the postseason entirely.
Houston can probably stay on top of the division, even if Bregman continues to struggle. But it’s a long, hot summer to come. The Rangers are struggling right now, but remain a dangerous team.
The chances of manager A.J. Hinch‘s club maintaining their early lead and bringing home the franchise’ first division crown since 2001 will be greatly improved if Bregman begins to finally heat up.
Right now, most things are going the Astros’ way. But Houston has a problem at third base in Bregman. That problem needs to get resolved if the Astros want to reach their potential as a dominating American League powerhouse and World Series contender.