Fresh Fantasy Faces for ’14: George Springer


Mar 3, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (79) fields a hit off the center field wall during a game against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Surprise, surprise, George Springer is being called up today.

Please breathe into this bag until you are no longer being overcome by the vapors.

Springer hit 37 home runs and stole 45 bases in the minors last year and if that didn’t earn him a job out of spring training, I sure as heck didn’t think he’d get the call at a time that would jeopardize his Super 2 status, but that’s why I’m not a MLB General Manager and instead only write about fake baseball in my spare time.

As I mentioned before, Springer fell just 3 homers shy of becoming the first minor leaguer to join the 40/40 club. While 40/40 certainly would’ve been a hoot to talk about, 37/45 is darned interesting in and of itself.

Springer’s 2013 Minor League campaign was split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City where he posted a .303/.411/.600 slash line in 135 games. Good lord, hide your women, because those are some seriously studly numbers.

Springer has a brilliant combination of elite power and efficient, crafty speed (as of 2013 he was 81-for-97 in his career steal attempts).

In terms of power, the righty has what scouts refer to as “big raw” (which let’s be honest, is an excellent term).  He also has outstanding bat speed and a disciplined approach. Springer also has  ace on-base skills. Strikeouts aside, he’s not a total free swinger. Sure, his minor league career saw him strike out 25%+ of the time, but he also walked at a greater than 14% clip.

What about the strikeouts?

Yes, he’s likely to strike out more than 25% of the time. Here’s that paper bag because I can tell you are hyperventilating again. The 6’3″, 205 pound man has a powerful, violent swing, taking a cut as if he’s Paul Bunyan chopping at a sequoia. He’s not trying to slap at the ball; he’s trying to punish the ball.

But even his brilliant athleticism can’t stop him from having trouble with good breaking pitches. This has led some to be bearish of Springer, thinking he won’t adjust to major league pitching. There is a place for contrarian fantasy baseball strategy or valuation. But is there a place for crazy town banana pants valuation?

Yes, a pitcher like Yu Darvish will take his lunch. But do you know who else Yu Darvish strikes out? Errbody. We heard the same complaints about Jose Abreuthat quality pitchers will dominate him – but that is to lose sight of the fact that there are a hundred more #3, 4, and 5 pitchers in the league for George Springer to feast on. It’s only too bad that Springer can’t hit against his own team, but there is always the Minnesota Twins.

What’s the outlook for 2014?

But what can fantasy owners expect from Springer now that he has gotten the call? We want hard numbers here!

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Obviously, I’m bullish on Springer. I like his raw tools, I like his athleticism. I like the improvement he’s shown, and I like his makeup and hard-working approach to the game.

Perhaps Springer’s whiffing will ultimately cause his average to fall below the .250 range and make him a more ideal six-hole hitter at full maturity. But the dearth of options in the Astros lineup and his on-base skills will in the short-term (at least) place him in a cherry lineup spot near the top and lead to plenty of runs scored.

The swing-and-miss certainly won’t keep his power from playing in games, as he’ll locate plenty of mediocre fastballs to punish. Plus, the combination of on-base skills with his speed and heads-up base running, should insure plenty of stolen bases and even significant runs in the poor Astros lineup.

If Springer was listed on eBay, this is the place where I’d reassure you that you could ‘bid confidently.’