Alex Bregman has been on the baseball world’s radar for a long time. At LSU, he was the SEC Freshman of the Year, and he was a first-team All-America in 2015. The Astros drafted him second overall that spring, and he was named the ’16 Minor League Player of the Year. Now, after almost two years in the majors with Houston, he has become a World Series champion and an All-Star Game MVP. And at just 24 years old, Bregman is hoping his best years are still ahead.
Bregman has been getting a lot of attention lately, but what team did the New Mexico native root for when he was a kid? And who is his biggest fan? I sat down with the third baseman before the Astros hosted the Mariners this month to find out.
How has being the All-Star Game MVP changed your life? Are you recognized more out in public?
I don’t know if I’m recognized more than before in Houston, but definitely more on a national scale. When we’re out on the road, out in the community, more people know who I am.
Where on the road has it happened?
L.A., Seattle—it’s happened in most of the cities that we’ve been to since the All-Star Game.
You grew up in a baseball family. Your grandfather was the general counsel for the Washington Senators, and your father played at the University of New Mexico. Were you always drawn to the game, or did you play other sports as well?
I’ve always been drawn to baseball. Ever since I was five years old, [when] my dad would bring a baseball card home from work, I just fell in love with the game. I’d play in the cul de sac with my mom and him, and it’s been fun.
Would you say that it runs in the family?
For sure. My little brother, [A.J.], plays. He’s going to college to play; he got drafted by the Astros this year. Baseball’s huge in our family.
As a kid, who did you model your game after?
I wanted to model my game after [Red Sox second baseman] Dustin Pedroia. I loved how he was undersized, he was gritty, he played the game the right way, and he was a winner.
Does that mean that you were a Red Sox fan?
I liked them, but I liked players more. I liked [Derek] Jeter, and my mom was a Yankees fan, so I rooted for whoever was against the Yankees.
Who is your biggest fan and why?
I would say my parents are my two biggest fans. My brother and sister as well. We’re a close family, and we always will be.
You were drafted second overall in 2015. To what extent did you feel a lot of pressure to succeed?
I believe that pressure is a privilege. When you put pressure on yourself in practice, you’re able to come through in the pressure situations, so I never really put pressure on myself. The only times I did were in practice.
There have been lots of players from Triple A coming up to the majors for the first time this year, such as Tyler White, J.D. Davis, and Kyle Tucker. What advice have you given them about the transition from Triple A to the majors?
I want them to feel like they’re part of this team. I know when people come up to the big leagues, it’s tough to feel like that, but I want them to feel that they belong, and if they do, they’ll play loose and have fun.
The Astros clubhouse is known for having one of the best atmospheres in baseball. What is the reason for that? Is there a common thread among the players?
I think our clubhouse is great because everyone gets along. Everybody talks with everybody; we all know what makes each other tick. The Latin players and American players are really close, and we’ve been able to speak both Spanish and English with each other, pretty much our whole team, so that’s helped out a lot.
I read that you were learning Spanish to better communicate with your teammates. Was there a particular event or catalyst that made you want to do this?
I wanted to be a leader, and when I asked [catcher] Brian McCann about what it takes to be a leader, [he said that] you have to be able to communicate with everybody and know what makes everyone tick, and in order for me to do that, I had to be able to speak Spanish.
You’ve had a lot of late-inning success, including in the playoffs last year. How does your mindset and approach change at the plate when the game is on the line?
My mindset doesn’t really change. I try and stay with my approach that I’ve had throughout the game. I try to get a good pitch to hit, and I try to get a good swing on it. I know that I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, and that’s why I succeed, because I learn from my mistakes.
What do you like to do on your days off and in the offseason?
My life is really based around baseball, and I only take one week off from baseball, which is the first week. I take a week off to refresh my mind and my body, and I’ll hang out with my friends and we’ll go on vacations.
Where do you guys go?
We’ll go to the beach or a cabin in the mountains, but we just pick different places we haven’t been yet and travel.
If you weren’t a baseball player, what would you like to be?
It’s tough for me to answer that. I don’t really know. The only thing I’ve ever known is baseball. Since I was five years old, it’s been the only thing on my mind.
You’ve already achieved so much in a short amount of time: World Series champ, All-Star Game MVP, and more. What do you hope to accomplish by the time you are done playing?
By the time I’m done, I want to have won a ton of World Series. I want to play for a long time—20 or so years—and hopefully be one of the best in the game for a long period of time.
Top photograph by Jaisal Kalapatapu