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Albuquerque’s Bregman can add MVP to an eventful 2019

Albuquerque native Alex Bregman, Houston Astros slugger, is shown during Game 5 of this year’s World Series. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

World Series champion.

All-Star Game Most Valuable Player and two-time All-Star.

Silver Slugger.

Highest-drafted player from New Mexico.

American League MVP?

Alex Bregman can add to his impressive list of accolades when the AL MVP is named Thursday.

Bregman, the 25-year-old Houston Astros third baseman and Albuquerque Academy alumnus, is one of three finalists for the prestigious award along with LA Angels star Mike Trout and Oakland’s Marcus Semien.

“(Winning the MVP) is a childhood dream,” Bregman told the Journal in a Wednesday phone interview while he was on vacation in the French Caribbean Island of St. Barts. With him is father Sam and other family members.

“You put in so much work in the offseason, it’d be amazing to win (the MVP).”

The possibility of winning baseball’s top individual honor comes while Bregman’s team is being accused of, and investigated for, sign-stealing using a camera positioned in center field at Minute Maid Park, the Astros’ home, during their run in 2017 to the World Series title.

Bregman had no comment on the accusations.

Bregman’s season already has been eventful. It began with a six-year, $100 million contract extension in March, saw Bregman establish himself as one of the best players in baseball and ended in disappointment.

“It feels great that I’m able to help my family,” Bregman said. “But I put that aside and go out and play for the love of the game.”

On the field, Bregman won his first career Silver Slugger award after hitting .296 with 41 home runs (third in the AL), 122 runs (fourth in the AL), 112 RBIs (fifth in the AL), 119 walks (first in the AL) and an OPS of 1.015 ( third in the AL).

Even more impressive, Bregman only struck out 83 times. AL home run leader Jorge Soler of Kansas City had 178 strikeouts. Bregman and Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado were the only two players with 40 or more home runs and less than 100 strikeouts.

Adding to his MVP résumé, Bregman also filled in for injured teammate Carlos Correa at shortstop, his position at Academy and LSU, for 65 games with 59 starts for the Astros in 2019.

“Going back to short was fun,” Bregman said. “It was a blast and I was just happy to help my team out.”

Bregman, a right-handed hitter and second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, got his first start in the All-Star Game this year after winning the ASG MVP honor in 2018.

Houston won a MLB-best 107 games this season and advanced with playoff series victories over Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees to win its second AL crown in three years, but lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals in a wild series.

“We had a great year but came up short of our goal of winning the World Series,” Bregman said. “But a 107-win season and making it to the final game of the season is a pretty good year. I’m looking forward to getting better next year and hopefully winning it.”

The Astros had a shot at their second championship in three years, winning three games in Washington after dropping the first two at home. But the Nationals won Game 6 – when Bregman causing an outrage by carrying his bat to first base after hitting a home run – and Game 7 in Houston.

“It was a lot of fun,” Bregman said. “It was a blast, but it was a roller coaster. It’s brutal to lose that series. That’s why we’re here (in St. Barts), trying to get over it.”

Bregman wouldn’t say if he expects to win the MVP award Thursday, but he did say to expect even more from him in 2020.

“I can improve in every phase of the game, and I can’t wait to get after it this offseason,” he said.

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