Houston Astros rookie Alex Bregman was the top prospect in the minors, a guy who projects as a terrific hitter in the majors. He hasn't hit since his call-up, however, going 1-for-32 to start his career:
Alex Bregman's heat map so far: pic.twitter.com/SN5oH7yC1l— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) August 3, 2016
He's not the only player to go 1-for-32. Derek Norris just ended a 1-for-32 skid on Tuesday. A couple other non-pitchers have also gone 1-for-32 this season, although nobody has done worse than a 1-for-32 skid.
So what's going on? I checked the video of all 34 of his plate appearances to see how much of this has been bad luck and how much has been just adjusting to the majors.
1. 0-1 count, 93 mph fastball from Michael Pineda: Routine fly ball to left field.
2. 2-2, 95 mph fastball from Pineda: Struck out swinging on high pitch.
3. 1-1, 95 mph fastball from Pineda: Fly ball to deep right-center, caught on the warning track.
4. 1-2, slider from Andrew Miller: Struck out swinging.
5. 2-1, 88 mph fastball from CC Sabathia: Slow chopper back to the mound.
6. 3-2, slider from Sabathia: Struck out swinging on pitch off the plate.
7. 0-0, 91 mph fastball from Sabathia: Weak grounder to second.
8. Walked on 3-2 curveball from Dellin Betances.
9. Walked on 3-2 slider from Masahiro Tanaka.
10. 1-0, 90 mph fastball from Tanaka: In on his hands, popped up to second base near right-field line.
11. 0-0, 92 mph fastball from Adam Warren: Popped up to second base.
12. 2-2, changeup from Matt Boyd: Weak dribbler to second base.
13. 3-2, 90 mph fastball from Boyd: Low and in, popped up to first base in foul territory.
15. 2-2, 92 mph fastball from Dustin Molleken: Hard grounder up the middle, but 4-3 groundout against a shift.
16. 0-0, 92 mph fastball from Justin Verlander: Routine fly ball to right field.
17. 1-1, changeup from Verlander: Medium-hard grounder to third base.
18. 1-1, slider from Verlander: Fly ball to deep left field, caught on the warning track.
19. 0-2, curveball from Verlander: Struck out swinging on a nasty hook.
20. 0-2, 92 mph fastball from Mike Pelfrey: Popup on high pitch to shallow right.
21. 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Pelfrey: Looper into center field for base hit.
22. 1-1, 93 mph fastball from Pelfrey: High pitch, routine fly to center.
23. 0-2, 100 mph fastball from Bruce Rondon: Struck out swinging on pitch at top of zone.
24. 1-1, 93 mph fastball from Lowe: Routine fly ball to center on pitch up and away.
25. 2-2, slider from Marcus Stroman: Struck out swinging on ball in dirt.
26. 2-2, slider from Stroman: Routine grounder to third.
27. 1-0, sinker from Stroman: In on hands, routine fly to center.
28. 1-0, changeup from Joaquin Benoit: Bouncer back to the mound.
29. 3-2, 95 mph fastball from Joe Biagini: Struck out swinging on thigh-high pitch.
30. 1-2, 97 mph fastball from Robert Osuna: Struck out swinging on high pitch.
31. 2-2, knuckleball from R.A. Dickey: Slow chopper to third base.
32. 2-2, knuckleball from Dickey: Routine grounder to shortstop.
33. 2-2, knuckleball from Dickey: Struck out swinging.
34. 1-2, 93 mph fastball from Danny Barnes: Struck out swinging on pitch just above the belt.
Well, it hasn't been bad luck. Bregman has rarely hit the ball hard and already has three infield popups -- some players go entire seasons without three infield popups. He did drive the ball to the warning track twice, but both resulted in outs. Other than one ground ball up the middle, his grounders haven't been hit hard. Two things that especially stand out to me:
(A) He has had trouble against fastballs up in the zone, striking out several times against pitches at the top of the zone or just above. If we isolate all fastballs in the upper third of the zone or above, Bregman has swung on 14 of 24 such pitches, missing on five and hitting five foul balls. This is the pitch Mike Trout took several seasons to adjust to, finally doing real damage for the first time this season. The key for Bregman is learning to lay off the high fastball when it's not a strike; he has chased a pitch out of the zone on five of his 14 swings. This could just be a small sample size thing or a legit hole in his swing. But it looks like scouting reports already are getting around. He's going to get challenged until he proves he can hit it.
(B) He's not getting into hitter's counts. As you can see from the balls in play above, he's not seeing many 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1 counts, where he should be able to see more fastballs. Maybe he needs to be more aggressive in those counts.
He also has been jammed a few times on pitches inside. Anyway, I don't think any of this is a cause to be seriously concerned just yet. His track in the minors is just too good to think he wasn't ready for the majors. Every hitter has bad stretches; Bregman just happened to start his career with one.