It happened unexpectedly. One of the biggest prospects in the game was called up by the Astros, out of nowhere really (turns out that according to Jeff Passan the two week delay in calling up Springer to start the season pushes back his free agency from 2019 to 2020). He strode onto the field, bat slung over his shoulder, ready to change the game of baseball as we know it. Let me introduce you to George Springer and give my thoughts on what they should be expecting from him for 2014.
Some background on the uber-prospect.
He stands 6'3” and weighs 205 lbs.
He bats and throws right-handed.
He was last drafted in 2011 with the 11th overall selection by the Astros.
According to Baseball Prospectus he was the 49th best prospect in baseball in 2012.
According to Baseball Prospectus he was the 55th best prospect in baseball in 2012.
According to Baseball Prospectus he was the 20th best prospect in baseball in 2012.
Year by year.
2011: 5-for-28 with one homer, four steals.
2012: .3302-24-87-109-32 in 128 games at High-A, Double-A
2013: .303-37-108-106-45 in 135 games at Double-A, Triple-A
Did you notice the nearly 40/40 effort he posted last season in all of 135 games?
Clearly this guy has some talent.
Springer is a .302 career hitter in the minors. That might be slightly deceiving though. Often times elite talent, as Springer is, can dominate at the lower levels. I say that because of some holes that undoubtedly exist in his swing. There doesn't need to be much analysis here. A quick look at his player card shows massive strikeout totals. In 283 minor league games, and that includes 114 games at Single-A ball, he's struck out 334 times. Just awful. Strikeouts will be a problem for Springer. And with them it will be render Springer incapable of hitting .300 in the big leagues. It might even make a run to .270 difficult. There's also this. For his minor league career he's only produced an 18 percent line drive rate (see Minor League Central). That's not exactly breakfast of champions kind of stuff (remember the big league average is about 19-20 percent). Also pretty hard, OK let's just say it, it's impossible to think he will be able to transition the .380 BABIP he has in the minors to the big leagues. Ain't happening. He has a decent 0.47 BB/K ratio though so at least he takes the occasional walk (his career .397 OBP in the minors is nice).
Springer has 65 homers in 283 games played. That's 33 homers per 142 games played. That's good (for insightful analysis like that keep it tuned to FantasyAlarm... LOL). Part of that success is do to his huge 26 percent HR/F ratio. How good is that? A 26 percent HR/F ratio in the big leagues in 2013 would have been the third best mark in baseball. Can he sustain that rate in the big leagues? Unlikely. What makes this situation even more concerning is the fact that Springer has a mere 33 percent fly ball rate. That's about two percentage points below the big league average. He's going to have to lift the ball some more with the Astros because it's nearly impossible to think he will be able to continue to convert more than a quarter of his fly balls into homers. It should also be noted that Springer has been rather pull heavy to this point of his career, so he will have to learn to use the field a bit better or pitchers might be able to exploit his inability to consistently drive the ball to the opposite field.
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Springer steals bases, impressively so. He's averaged 38 steals each of the last two seasons. He's only played an average of 132 games each season. He should be able to steal bases, and that alone should help to buoy his fantasy value. Not much to worry about here. He simply needs to get on base. It's not like the Astros are going to hold him back – they need to produce runs.
Let me state a few things clearly.
(1) Being called up this early means that George Springer should vie for the Rookie Of The Year Award.
(2) Springer will play every day for the Astros.
(3) Springer should be added in every AL-only league that he wasn't drafted in (how was he not picked?).
(4) Springer should be added in all 15 team mixed leagues.
(5) Springer should be added in all 12 team mixed leagues.
(6) Springer can be added in 10 team mixed leagues (if you start five outfielders).
What should you be expecting from Springer? Let me throw out three names...
I know that no one wants to hear that. But I'm not here to make you smile. I'm not here to hold your hand and tell you everything will be alright. I'm here to be honest. That's why you follow the Oracle, right? For his honesty. That's why I mentioned the three guys I did. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Springer will be Carlos Gonzalez. Could he be up to that level of a fantasy producer in 2014? The talent is there, but it would be foolish to expect that to occur (don't believe folks that are selling that). It's far more likely that Springer experiences the ups and down that most rookies do. He's talented, will run into pitches and bash them over the wall, and he'll steal bases. He's also undisciplined at the dish and has a pull happy approach that can be exploited. That's why I listed the three men I did. They are all talented and capable of posting a 20/20 season, but it's also a successful campaign if they bat .250. That's where we are at with Springer. Expect the homers and steals to be plentiful, but expect struggles in the batting average and OBP categories.
Springer could one day be a fantasy superstar.
It's just not likely to happen in 2014.
KG - Grab Springer. If you want to deal him, you can offer him up to the entire league --- maybe someone will give you more than this guy is offer? NO telling when Baez comes up.
Oracle, 12 team mixer, 5x5 roto keeper. Can keep total of 2 players in the round you drafted them. Waiver pickups count as a 22nd rounder. I'm #1 waiver priority. Guy with #2 wants Springer. Was hoping to hold out for Baez or Bradley. He'll, I was hoping for taillion, but he's probably a great example of why to not hold out. Of is Holliday, marte, Cruz, util is belt, Jo's are altuve & andrus. My sp's are a bit banged up. Do I go ahead and Grab Springer? Or try to coax the #2 guy to give me a decent sp to let Springer go past me and wait for the next big thing?
You are correct. But I think he's worth a grab as a 5th outfielder on the oft-hand chance that he manages to make adjustments more quickly then we expect.
Byron - In a 10 tm lg with no IR spot, I dont think you have to keep many players if they are going to be out 4-6 weeks. I dont love the idea of dropping Cobb, but if it's not a keeper lg, you could do it.
Steve - You could take Choo for Braun. No one knows what is up with Braun, we're all guessing. Choo is an elite, stable option. Certainly a higher saftey factor. He's not as good if both play 150 games, but at this point I wouldn't deem it nuts to take that deal.
Glenn - Let's see how Springer does. We've got four days to get a handle on how he looks right now. Too early to tell. Let it play out. Never know who might get hurt too. I'd trade any for the right price, but Cruz and Moss are the ones I would really look to move.
Sam - I answered this in the other spot you posted. Only need to do it once, I'll get to it.
I have Choo, Holliday, Cruz and Moss. I start 3 of them and DH the other. But I have springer as a 3 year keeper on my bench. It's a 14 team H2H weekly points league. Start Springer for one of them next week? Try to trade one of them? Thanks.
Ray - agreed - will keep my eyes/ears open - Second question - I put Ryan Braun out on the block - was offered Shin Soo Choo straight up. Thoughts? Thanks!
Hey Ray, so I dont want to get too caught up in the Springer hype, but I'm thinking I should drop Braun for him. Thoughts? Just kidding. So one of my leagues is a shallow 10 team mixed. My team has been riddled with injuries (Cobb, Robertson, Reyes, Zimmerman) Is Alex Cobb droppable? Thanks
Steve - There is ZERO way to answer. I don't know of anyone who thought Springer would be up before June - his call up shocked the world. Bradley in ARI = his GM says it's not happening soon. There's just no way to know, which is why I always caution folks about drafting rookies.
Troy - Oh, and all very similar players. Can go Morse since he's started out well, but he seems to always get hurt. Swisher is most stable of group. Hart, he's looked pretty bad so far, so he'd be third right now.
Troy - The rankings are no longer updated. That stopped after the first week of the season. We are thinking about releasing something on the first of every month moving forward. You can still access them here: http://www.fantasyalarm.com/rankings.php
Ray - great write up - and someone in my 12-teamer picked him up 48 hours ago (good info?) - SO, who is next Springer to be called up? Archie Bradley? Gregory Polanco? Make me look good. -SF fan - Go Giants!
Hi Ray. Where do I find your updated rankings? I bought the guide, and it is great by the way, but I used to find the updated rankings on a link on this page I thought. Hart, Morse, or Swisher ROY? Troy
Thanks, Ray - we use 5. I'd be looking to replace Reddick, who just looks lost (also underachieving in my OF right now: KDavis, Swisher, Fowler; happy though with my top two, Stanton and Bautista). Best available FAs besides Springer are Willingham, K.Johnson, G. Parra, and David Murphy. Not sure the huge cost for Springer would give me appreciably more production, other than in SB.
AC - Depends on how your OF looks, and if you use 3 or 5 starters. Someone is likely to spend well over $50. Don't know if I would do that, I'd be in the $40-50 range, but if you want to get him I'm thinking you might have to go well into the $60's to get him, maybe much more.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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