Houston Astros George Springer: Top-10 OF in 2016

George Springer was one of the most talked about prospects a couple of years ago. He hasn’t exploded the way fans thought he would. This year could be the year.

The Houston Astros surprised a lot of people with how long the team was atop the American League West. The starting rotation has a Cy Young winner and the offense has a few breakout pieces, including the Rookie of the Year. These pieces give the Astros team some promise, but there is one player that fantasy owners are waiting to explode, and his name is George Springer

After spending three years in the minor leagues, the Astros called Springer up on April 16, 2014. He combination of power and speed made him a highly sought after waiver claim. He had 51 home runs and 77 steals in 263 minor-league games between 2012 and 2013.

On July 23, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a left quad strain. It was announced on Sept. 16 that he would not play for the rest of the season. After 78 games, he hit 20 home runs, 51 RBI and .231/.336/.468 line. Even in the shortened season, the hype for Springer was sky-high. His ADP in ESPN fantasy leagues was 47.7 (fifth round).

With the emergence of Jose Altuve and rookie Carlos Correa, George Springer was able to sneak under the radar a bit. He played in just 102 games, missing July and August with a wrist injury. Before the injury, he was hitting .264/.365/.457 with 13 home runs, 29 RBI and 14 steals. In the final 27 games, he hit three homers with 12 RBI, two steals and a .304 average.

The missed time obviously hurt Springer’s rating at the end of the season. He finished No. 37 among outfielders and No. 148 overall on the Player Rater. He was sandwiched between Christian Yelich and Delino DeShields. If he was able to finish the season with 25 home runs and 65 RBI, he would have been a top-20 outfielder.

From his first to second season, George Springer made some big improvements. His strikeout rate dropped, 33 to 24.2 percent, and swing percentage on pitches outside of the strike zone went from 24.1 percent to 22.5 percent. His line drive rate rose almost 10 percent, which helped increase his on-base percentage.

The hype for George Springer is high again heading into the 2016 season. ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft ranks Springer as the No. 9 outfielder and No. 30 player overall. Yahoo! Sports writer Dalton Del Don ranks him No. 41 overall. I’m leaning towards the 40s (fifth round ADP), but the improvements and upside are definitely there. Hitting at the top of the lineup, between Altuve and Correa will give Springer the opportunity to see good pitches and drive in runs.

Projections: 138 hits, 28 home runs, 81 RBI, 20 steals, .260 average

Draft: Round 5