At Astros Fan Fest 2015, the local bloggers who cover the Houston Astros were invited to a bloggers roundtable. We were given 30 minutes each with Astros President Reid Ryan, GM Jeff Luhnow, and new manager A.J. Hinch. During A.J. Hinch’s interview, he gave a breakdown of the Astros lineup and his characteristics as a manager. I had the honor of asking the last question, and I’m pretty sure I jumped in front of a competing website.
For those of you who know me including my family, members of my fantasy league, and my editor would know the one person I would ask the new manager about. My favorite player.
Springer Being Springer
From the moment that Astros fans saw George Springer finally in an Astros uniform, there has been a sense of relief and excitement. Using the term savior is too strong but he is a franchise-changing player. Springer offers a five-tool talent that can eventually make him into a superstar player, maybe a mini-Mike Trout type of player.
“The kid is often dancing” Jose de Jesus Ortiz said referring Springer. Springer brought this energy to the clubhouse as well. He has brought back fun to watching baseball in Houston, for its fans and players. Here are some examples of the energy that George Springer brings to the clubhouse.
In an article by Jeff Passan, “George Springer infuses Astros with much-needed talent, energy” he describes a situation where the Astros are sitting in the clubhouse. Springer walks in and asked Jason Castro to turn on some music, he started dancing. As Chris Carter looked like he was too good to start dancing, Dexter Fowler, Castro, and many other players start dancing. A reluctant Chris Carter finally joins the crowd. That’s the effect Springer has on people.
Springer grew up worshiping Torii Hunter, who brings a similar energy and leadership to his game. From Passan’s article.
"Springer doesn’t remember how old he was. Maybe 7, maybe 8. He just remembers seeing the player with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats: the way he moved in center field, how he swung the bat, the general sense of je ne sais quoi with which he played. He went home and told his dad that night he had a new favorite player.His name was Torii Hunter.“He has fun,” Springer said. “I just try to emulate what he does. Be who I am, but at the same time do things how he does it. Because he does them the right way.”"
He was later introduced to Torii Hunter by former Astro skipper Bo Porter, the two players exchanged numbers and have kept in contact since.
Speaking of Porter, here is a quote about Springer from Passan’s article:
“He’s just being George Springer, which is good,” Porter said. “Different personalities develop over time. A lot of times, people come into the setting and aren’t who they are. And it takes away their ability to feel the freedom to impact a ballclub. One of the things I love about George is he is who he is. He’s going to have fun.”
“One of the things I love about George is he is who he is. He’s going to have fun.”-Porter
What does the new Astros skipper A.J. Hinch think of Springer? “He can dance as much as he wants, you know, if he keeps hitting home runs!”
“Springer can dance as much as he wants, you know, if he keeps hitting home runs!”-Hinch
“People love that, they rally behind that. You’re talking about a guy who you rarely want to throttle down, but he’s as intense as the come, he’s ready to go.” Hinch described his first day on the job as he called all 45 players or so to introduce himself. He could not get a hold of Springer, but when he finally did, Springer was doing a cardio workout in Connecticut. “He’s obviously a full throttle dude.”
George needs to learn how to run into the wall
When the Astros were interviewing outfield coach Gary Pettis, Hinch asked him what can be done to make the outfield better and to rate the Astros outfield from an outside perspective. Here is Hinch’s recap of that conversation.
Pettis: “First thing we need to do better is teach Springer how to run into walls.”
Hinch: “Not run into a wall you mean?” As a person with limited outfield experience.
Pettis: “No, we want him to run into the wall, we want him to run into the wall CORRECTLY!”
Jul 3, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA;Teach Springer how to run into the wall. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Last year Springer got hurt with his max effort running into the wall. He brings comparisons with the max effort of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. What Pettis was referring to is that the Astros must keep him healthy, because he is a franchise player. While you don’t want to slow him down, you need to teach him to be aggressive in a “safe” way.
Hinch said when debating between playing Springer in right or center,”There are more walls in right field, less walls in center field, more open spaces, but there is that niche out there by the Crawford Boxes over there.”
Hinch made a great statement, if Springer is playing center field “I don’t want him running into any of those big bodies in left field.” Of course he was referring to either Chris Carter or Evan Gattis.
Moral of the story, George Springer we need you healthy.
Springer versus Upton
This was actually a good comparison of what Springer could become. One thing to notice is that during Justin Upton’s first full season, he had very few stolen bases before breaking out in the speed department the second year. Hinch said “Both are explosive athletes. Springer is probably going to maintain his overall game a little longer than Justin did.”
“Both are explosive athletes, Springer is probably going to maintain his overall game a little longer than Justin did.”-Hinch
Hinch indicated that Springer “has a hard time keeping weight on,” so he should be able to maintain his speed longer.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- 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
Most people reading this might think what speed? Yes he only stole five bases last year, but how much of that was learning the major league game or did him having a injury slow him down? He ran like the road runner on first to third advances on the base paths. Remember Upton only stole 1 base in his first full season, then 20+ for next 4 seasons.
“But the danger that both those guys posses when they step into the batters box is immense. As far as a carry-the-team type of impact, he’s got that.” A.J. Hinch said, “I can see him (Springer) being the muscle of the lineup, that’s why middle of the order makes sense.”
A.J. Hinch said his one job with Springer, besides learning how to run into walls, is “like I had to do with Justin, is to realize that there are other people around him, he doesn’t have to do it all himself. When you are a young player, and you come up and are being groomed as the face of the franchise, they just need to play.”
Hinch also mentioned that he will have to have the same conversations with Mark Appel and Carlos Correa when they arrive in time. Hinch said he will let players be themselves, referring to Jon Singleton‘s not buttoning his top buttons of his jersey, as long as they are playing competitively.
Sounds like the new Astros manager already has plans in place for his superstar outfielder, and I can’t wait for George to hit some “Springer Dingers” into the “Bear Den” at Minute Maid Park.
A.J. Hinch, if you read this give me a follow. George Springer, you too!