If I told you that someone in 2015 would hit 30+ home runs, drive in 100+ runs, and steal 25+ bases, you would say “Sure. Mike Trout.” Well, I have a bold prediction for Major League Baseball fans. Houston’s George Springer will finish ahead of Mr. Trout in the MVP voting this year.
Springer struggled out of the gate in 2014 after finally getting his promotion in mid-April. He looked pensive in the field and was pressing at the dish. It is possible he was nervous. I don’t blame him. All eyes were on his performance. He was expected to hit the ground running and impress from the word go. When success didn’t automatically happen, his confidence, and the confidence of the fans, seemed shaken. The Houston fan base had been starved of an explosive player ever since trading away Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence years earlier. Were we all expecting too much from him?
Then, it all changed. CRACK!!! It became a familiar sound when Springer came to the dish. Balls were leaving the yard on a nightly basis, the defense in Houston’s right field started to flash, and the Astros were winning games. Whatever wasn’t clicking for George Springer in the early going finally fell into place. Houston’s next great ball player, it appeared, had arrived.
In mid-July, however, Springer suffered a quad strain and hit the disabled list. After a couple of setbacks in rehab, the Astros decided to play it safe with their young star and shut him down for the season. He would finish with 20 home runs and 51 RBI in just 78 games. It’s easy to extrapolate those numbers over a full season by simply doubling them, but that’s not exactly how baseball works. Just imagine what he could have done without those early struggles and shaken confidence.
My prediction is bullish, but what’s not to like? Baseball is the perfect game to apply analytics to and I have a lot of respect for it, but I’m not going to bore you with all of that. I’m simply going to use the eye test on my prediction. If you have never seen George Springer swing the bat because you were a Houstonian without Comcast last year or just never watched highlights, then maybe your doubts about such a monster season would be understandable. But if you have seen it, you know the possibilities.
He violently attacks pitches and when he connects, it’s a beautiful site for Houston fans. Sure, that approach leads to a lot of strike outs, but Springer is a lifetime .301 hitter in 4 seasons in the minors. Batting .285 hardly seems impossible for the young stud. Plus, if you weren’t aware, Mike Trout led the American League with 184 punch outs last year.
So, here it is. My prediction for the slash line that will lead Springer into full-blown stardom and MVP consideration this upcoming season.
37 home runs, 111 R.B.I., 26 stolen bases, .274 batting average, and 196 strikeouts.
Let’s compare that to Mike Trout’s 2014 MVP campaign:
36 home runs, 111 R.B.I., 16 stolen bases, .287 batting average, and 184 strikeouts.
Call me a homer. Call me crazy. Just be sure to do it while you still can. Springer will be massive for the Stros in 2015.
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