Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
The sophomore slump means nothing to Alex Bregman. Sure, it was technically his third big-league season, but it was his second full campaign with the Astros, and it was a true breakout. He slashed .286/.394/.532 with 31 homers, 51 doubles, 103 RBI, and 105 runs scored in 705 plate appearances. That performance led to a 157 wRC+ (fifth-best in baseball) and a 7.6 fWAR (tied for fourth-best).
He effectively carried an Astros offense that was rarely at full strength. So, nobody can blame him upon hearing he was “disappointed” in getting his contract renewed at just $640,500. I’d be disappointed after just putting together a performance worth $60.9 million, too (according to FanGraphs’ Dollars metric).
But if he continues on his current trajectory, he should eventually recoup some of the money he deserves to get this year. Bregman’s ability to hit just about any pitch is something that will help him earn a life-changing sum of money. In 2018, he saw six different pitches at least 200 times (four-seamer, sinker, slider, curveball, changeup, cutter). Of those, his performance against cutters was the only one to produce a wRC+ below 142 (it was 90).
The Astros’ offense gets a lot of attention with guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa taking up residence in the lineup. However, Bregman has easily planted himself right in the middle as a crucial cog.