WASHINGTON -- As Alex Bregman glanced down at the award he had just been presented with, something just felt right.
"My grandfather was the general counsel for the Washington Senators, and my dad grew up on Ted Williams' lap," Bregman said after winning the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. "So to see 'Ted Williams Most Valuable Player' on this trophy is pretty special."
Bregman's father, Sam, watched from the side, a look of pride engulfing his face. Sam's father had negotiated the deal for Williams to become the Senators' manager years ago, exposing him to greatness at an early age.
Now his son, the 24-year-old third baseman from the World Series champion Astros, was holding an award donning none other than Williams' name thanks to his go-ahead home run off Dodgers right-hander Thomas Stripling in the top of the 10th inning.
The American League held on for an 8-6 win over the National League in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the AL's sixth consecutive victory in the Midsummer Classic.
AL manager AJ Hinch, who doubles as Bregman's manager in Houston, seemed equally proud and impressed after watching yet another clutch at-bat by the budding young superstar.
"He just never ceases to amaze me with how controlled he is in the big moments," Hinch said. "Whether it's any part of the game, any situation, any pitcher, any pressure situation -- he's had some of the biggest walk-offs in franchise history. He obviously loves the moment."
Bregman had barely high-fived his teammates in the dugout when George Springer -- one of six Astros selected to the AL roster -- belted his own shot, going back to back with Bregman to give the AL a two-run edge.
"It's kind of one of those things where he had a big swing and I'm just trying to hit a ball hard, have a lot of fun in there," Springer said. "I was able to not miss it."
"Normally when we go back to back, I have to hit it after Springer does, because he leads it off, so it was pretty cool to see him go back to back," Bregman said. "I think George Springer is going to be hot for the second half now. The back-to-back push."
Bregman might only be in his second full season in the Majors, but he's already proven to be one of the best big-moment players in the league. He played a starring role in the Astros' title run last fall, both at the plate and in the field, making one memorable play after another to help lead Houston to its first World Series title.
"His heartbeat's perfect," Hinch said. "So is his execution in big moments."
Bregman struggled to explain why he seems to thrive when the pressure rises.
"I don't know; I think it's fun," he said. "I like competing. I like going head to head, the best man wins. I feel like I've been in those situations a lot in two years, and I've failed them probably just as much as I've succeeded in them. But I think that the times you fail in those moments, it gets you better for the next time you're in that situation. Just try and learn, and to do it today was cool."
Hinch credits Bregman's natural curiosity about the game, noting, "He's a baseball rat, through and through." The manager observed Bregman talking with nearly every player in the AL clubhouse during the past couple of days, trying to pick up any nugget he could along the way.
"He's always studying, he's always thinking, he's always watching," Hinch said. "He's a smart player. I've watched him ask a million questions to different players that have come through here. I'm not sure if anyone that I've come across in the big leagues loves baseball more than Alex Bregman. It starts with that and he continues to get better."
Bregman rattled off a half-dozen names of players whose brains he picked this week, both pitchers and hitters. Even after an exhausting night filled with emotion, the sparkle in his eye as he discussed these moments displayed precisely what Hinch had described.
"Just to be able to hang out with guys like [Mike] Trout and [Aaron] Judge and [Mookie] Betts and just be able to pick their brain and talk the game with them for two days, and to be able to play, compete in the Home Run Derby," Bregman said. "It's something I've watched every year, growing up as a kid. That was really special. I know my family had a lot of fun watching it. Then today, to be able to be on the field, let alone be able to hit the go-ahead homer is, I don't know, I'm on cloud nine."