HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman was 10 years old in 2004 and probably doesn't have any memory of Carlos Beltran's postseason for the ages that year, but he doesn't need the play-by-play of Beltran's full body of work over two decades to appreciate him today.
Beltran's name comes up a lot in conversation when younger Astros players talk about what's gone right with the team in this pennant-winning season, but it seems like Bregman makes more Beltran references than the others. The two spend a lot of time together, especially this time of year.
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If Bregman is looking for someone to emulate in October, he picked a good one.
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"Right before the postseason started, I talked to Carlos Beltran and asked him a few questions," Bregman said on Thursday at Minute Maid Park, in advance of tonight's Game 3 of the World Series. "And I said, 'You're one of the best postseason players in the history of the game. I want to know what makes you successful in the postseason.'"
Beltran's answer? Stick to your approach, and don't try to change anything.
Maybe that's helped Bregman have success against some of the Majors' toughest pitchers. In the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, he went deep twice off hard-throwing Red Sox lefty ace Chris Sale. In Game 1 of the World Series, Bregman interrupted a dominant outing by lefty Clayton Kershaw with a fourth-inning solo homer that accounted for Houston's only run in a 3-1 loss.
At just 23, Bregman has rarely looked overwhelmed or overmatched in any Major League game he's played, both in the regular season and postseason. That's largely attributed to basic raw talent and having the confidence of a 10-year veteran. But also, he has allies on the team who are filling his head with knowledge -- including Beltran, who's likely to see his name back in the lineup now that the Astros are home, need a designated hitter and will be facing Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish in Game 3.
It will be Beltran's 65th postseason game, and his ninth in a World Series. He has a .308/.413/.612 line through a career full of October appearances, including his most famous run in 2004, when he launched eight homers and drove in 14 runs in the NLDS and NL Championship Series, falling one game short of single-handedly hitting the Astros into the World Series.
So if anyone knows how to stay focused in October, it's Beltran, and now, by extension, Bregman, who recalled Beltran's basic advice: "Don't let the moment get too big."
"If you're a guy who is a line-drive hitter, be a line-drive hitter," Bregman continued. "You don't need to be anything extra in the postseason. Just stick to your plan, what's worked for you."
Just 2 1/2 years ago, Bregman was still playing college ball for Louisiana State University, prior to being drafted by the Astros with the No. 2 overall pick in 2015.
He was the compensatory pick for the Astros not signing Brady Aiken after the '14 Draft. A controversy at the time, the loss of Aiken has proven to be the Astros' gain. Instead, they have a defensively sound third baseman with a quick, compact swing -- qualities that allowed him to bypass much of the Minor League seasoning usually required of budding difference-makers.
"I love the way he plays," manager A.J, Hinch said. "His makeup, what he brings in the clubhouse, his competitiveness, and he plays with great emotion. And we welcome that."
Especially now, with the Astros three wins away from their first World Series championship.
"I think really that's all I've really tried to do this postseason," Bregman said. "Just try and be myself."