Astros in Fantasy Part 2a: George Springer
By Eric Huysman
Last year at my ESPN League Manager draft, I had 9 out of 12 owners at my house drafting on their laptops. The draft was going well, despite the fact that some of the players I drafted went bust during the season.
Let me set the scenario, when someone is taken of your que, your computer makes a ESPN Sports Center chime. It’s the 10th round (20th round with 10 keepers), and after picking up Ryan Howard as a high risk player, I make another high risk choice. I make my selection, and all I hear is 8 other computers make the chime indicating the someone was removed from their que!
Yes I picked George Springer knowing that he was going to not be called up at the beginning of the season. This is something that potential Kris Bryant owners will have to deal with the Cubs in 2015. I hadn’t been so excited about a Astros player debut since Hunter Pence in 2007. Like Pence, Springer brought this excitement and energy to the Astros after his promotion.
After injuries cut his 2014 season and took up a DL slot on my team, what can we expect from George Springer in 2015 and beyond in Fantasy Baseball?
George Springer’s Minor League Stats
The stats below shows his full seasons in the minors, not including his first experience in 2011 and his short stint in 2014.
Despite striking out 27% of the time in the minors, he showed ability to hit for average and OPS. However with his long swing he is projected to hit for a lower batting average than he showed in the minors. What stands out from his minor league time is his power and speed combination that makes Fantasy baseball players drool. While he didn’t show the speed in his initial stint in the major leagues, this could be explained with his quad injury that cut his season short.
George Springer’s 2014 Stats
Lets look at his numbers from 2014 with the Astros. Last season Springer hit .234/20 HR/51 RBI/5 SB. He hit 20 home runs in only 78 games (295 at-bats). In fact, George Springer was the most powerful hitter in 2014 according to Justin Perline.
Perline states “that he (Springer) led the league in home run to flyball percentage. Among batters with over 150 plate appearances, Springer placed first with a 27.8% HR/FB, meaning that for every ten flyballs he hit, almost three of them were home runs. This extreme rate is unlikely to hold, but if he can maintain something above 15% he will be in good shape.”
“Springer placed first with a 27.8% HR/FB, meaning that for every ten flyballs he hit, almost three of them were home runs.”-Justin Perline
Despite the rare high HR/FB rate, Springer also had a strikeout percentage of 33%. This was due to his 114 strikeouts in 345 plate appearances. Springer has a vulnerability to certain pitchers, but he should learn to adjust to those pitches as he matures.
Just remember, even though fans were calling for him to make his debut in 2013, he only had two full years in minors. He still has some learning to do, but I believe we have not seen the best from him yet. A good stat was his .294 batting average on balls in play, so when he starts making more contact, his overall average should increase.
I was honestly hoping that some printed material would be available before publishing this article, but apparently I’m an early bird trying to get the worm. So I will list as much as I can, and I will have a George Springer amendment later.
So far the projections show that Springer will hit some home runs, but will not hit for a high average. Projections also call for him having about 15 steals next year.
2015 Fantasy Rankings
Roto Champ: #24 outfielder (#73/Top 300)
FNTSY Sports Network: #15 outfielder
Roto Professor: #9 outfielder
Fantasy Assembly: #12 outfielder
ESPN: #18 Outfielder (50th overall)
ESPN Keeper Ranking: #25 overall
Fake Teams: #9 outfielder
From Fake Teams: Could he put up a 30+ home run, 20+ stolen base season in 2015? Yes, I think he can, and he has some upside to those numbers. There is risk in ranking Springer as my #9 outfielder, as he has a problem making contact, whiffing at a 30%+ rate, but when he makes contact, it is usually hard contact. He hit 20 home runs in less than 80 games in 2014, so 30 home runs is certainly within his reach.
USA Today: #82 overall
The rankings are a little more scattered than the projections. Springer’s actual ranking will be decided this year, in a good way or bad way.
Overall Fantasy Impressions
Before I get into my projections, floor/ceiling, and best player he compares to. Christina Kahrl of ESPN wrote recently the Springer was one of her picks of having a breakout season in 2015. Her concept is interesting.
“He’s sort of like putting one scoop of Bryce Harper or Yasiel Puig and one of teammate Chris Carter in the same sundae, because you get the athleticism and the power to pound a league-leading tally in homers — and strike out 200 times — all in one baseball helmet dish. The fulcrum that will propel his career one way or another is his mastery of the strike zone, because after a swinging strike clip that’s almost twice big-league average (31.9 to 16.3 percent) as a rookie, if he sorts out what he needs to lay off of, he could go from impressive to dominant in short order.”
“if he (Springer) sorts out what he needs to lay off of, he could go from impressive to dominant in short order.”-Kahrl
While looking for a player to compare to, this is where my “homer”ism will kick in. When I think “could he be the little brother of Mike Trout, Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp?. He is what they call a toolsy player who hits for a low average with lot of strikeouts, so as much as I would like to dream, Springer will be what the others were early in their career.
While his average may be low, he should make that up with home runs and stolen bases, if he steals more this year. According to Scott Sprat at Fangraphs, “Jeff Zimmerman estimates that three home runs or steals are worth about 10 points of average.” So Springer can make up for a low average by steals and power.
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- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
The best comparison I can make for Springer is Giancarlo Stanton in his second full season. I know Springer has more speed potential, but I rather him not Evan Longoria it by hurting himself by trying to steal. I know I have compared Springer to Stanton before, but here is what I am projecting for Springer using Stanton’s second big league season.
0.262/34 HR’s/87 RBI/5 SB
Ceiling: Giancarlo Stanton
Floor: Grady Sizemore
Am I saying that George Springer will be like Giancarlo Stanton? Astros fans sure hope so. It all depends on staying healthy and cutting down on his strikeouts. He has brought excitement back to watching the Astros.
Next in series
January 2nd, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 1: Astros Top 10 prospects
January 9th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 2a: George Springer
January 16th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 3: Jose Altuve
January 23rd, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 4: Dallas Keuchel
January 30th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 5: Chris Carter
February 6th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 6: Luke Gregerson
February 13th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 7 : Astros catchers
February 20th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 8: Jed Lowrie and other infielders
February 27th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 9: Astros outfielders
March 6th, 2015 – Astros in your Fantasy Part 10: Astros Rotation