<
>
Get ESPN+

Olney: AL Championship Series matchups we can't wait to see

Alex Bregman led the Astros this season in home runs, RBIs and runs. Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

Here are five matchups to watch in the American League Championship Series:

The guys who hit in front of Alex Bregman vs. Alex Cora's respect for Bregman

After Alex Cora's year as the bench coach for the Houston Astros, he possesses unique perspective on Bregman -- on Bregman's staggering confidence, on the short and quick swing that plays so well against the great pitching of October, on Bregman's assumption that he will answer every challenge. With that understanding of Bregman, there will probably be times in this series when Cora will wave four fingers to his catcher and send Bregman to first base intentionally rather than risk one of his pitchers working to him in a big spot.

But Cora will be boxed in with his choices if the hitters in front of Bregman consistently get on and fill the open bases that Cora needs to deal with the Astros' third baseman. This season, Bregman blasted 27 extra-base hits in 166 plate appearances with runners in scoring position; his RISP slash line is .388/.488/.731. Some stats analysts will argue that there is a high degree of luck for hitters who have success with runners on base, but in Bregman's case, Cora knows better.