HOUSTON -- Is Alex Bregman the best all-around third baseman in baseball? That’s a lofty statement considering the star power at third includes Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman, Kris Bryant, Jose Ramirez, Justin Turner and Matt Carpenter.
Bregman put himself on the map as one of the game’s best third basemen last season, when he made the All-Star team and hit .286 with a .394 on-base percentage, 51 doubles, 31 homers, 103 RBIs and 96 walks in a historic offensive campaign. Bregman is off to another great start offensively in 2019, but the numbers also show how terrific he has been defensively this season.
Entering Tuesday, Bregman had made one error at third base in 68 chances (he made 13 errors at third in 342 chances in 2018), but his advanced metrics are eye-opening. According to FanGraphs, Bregman leads all Major League third baseman in UZR (3.1) and he ranks second only to Machado (five) with four defensive runs saved.
“I think early in the season, he’s had to make a few adjustments along the way,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I’ve said this before. I don’t really care what the defensive metrics say. Our defense is underrated. We have a very athletic defense. We have guys around the field that can really make plays.”
Last season at third base, Bregman had a -6 defensive runs saved and a -3.1 UZR, which puts a run value to defense, attempting to quantify how many runs a player saved or gave up through their fielding prowess. He’s been playing further back on the infield this year, which has paid off.
“He gets to so many balls that some people don’t get to. He’s very good at throwing on the run and he’s very symbolic of our defense,” Hinch said.
Honorary Bat Girl
Cindy Saenz, a 52-year-old breast cancer survivor from Weslaco, Texas, who works for the Astros, has been named the club’s 2019 Honorary Bat Girl in support of the annual “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative, which is traditionally commemorated each Mother’s Day.
Clubs had the opportunity to hand-select their respective honorees, each of whom demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the battle against breast cancer. Saenz, who was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 36, will be recognized on the field prior to Sunday’s game the Rangers, which falls on Mother’s Day.
Since beating the disease, Saenz has been an active supporter, fundraiser, spokesperson and volunteer for Komen Houston Race for the Cure. She has raised close to $100,000 and has been recognized as a Komen Pink Honor Roll Member Top 100 Fundraiser since 2003. In addition, she has volunteered with countless other cancer organizations and initiatives. She is currently a part of the Astros' front-office staff as a service desk manager in the information technology department.
For the first time since the Honorary Bat Girl program’s inception in 2009, MLB has partnered with CrowdRise to host a fundraising contest for each of the Honorary Bat Girls to raise money to benefit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Susan G. Komen. The winner of the contest will receive a trip to the 2019 World Series. MLB will donate all funds from the contest to SU2C and Komen.
As has been tradition since 2006, players will continue to swing pink bats and sport pink wristbands through the “Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer” initiative, which is intended to raise awareness and, through donations and auction proceeds, funds to fight breast cancer. In recognition of this effort on Mother’s Day, players also will wear specially designed New Era caps highlighted by a pink crown and team color brim, while uniforms will feature the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, adorned with the symbolic pink ribbon, on the left chest.