The Houston Astros have hit a small snag in their fantastic 2015 campaign this week, having lost three of their last four in series against Baltimore and Chicago. While this stumble is likely nothing more than just a small rough patch, it does coincide with George Springer being moved to the top of the lineup, supplanting Jose Altuve as the team’s leadoff hitter. Obviously a change must be made, right? In terms of wins and losses, it looks like a simple decision, but Springer’s production at the top of the order may have something to say about that.
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When batting leadoff, a total of 17 at bats entering play on Friday night, Springer was batting .412 (compared to his .224 average on the season) with three runs, a homer and a single rbi. This batting average is by far the best of any position Springer has hit in the A.J. Hinch‘s order, even with last night’s 0-for-4 knocking that average down to .333. Yes this is an extremely small sample size, but based on pacing Springer’s three runs scored is on pace for 23 in the same number of at bats as Altuve from the leadoff spot, four more time than Altuve crossed the dish.
The problem that the Houston Astros face here is that Springer has more of a power/speed combo, and while Altuve has shown off some power this season belting five bombs, he is a contact hitter at his core, and is third in baseball with 15 steals this season behind Dee Gordon (20) and Billy Hamilton (19). Springer is tied for 8th with 11.
With Springer’s injury history, fans worry about him playing too hard and getting himself injured. While this may not hinder his prowess on the basepaths, there will always be that worry when he takes off for second that something could happen that could land him on the disabled list. At the same time, if he isn’t going to be utilizing his speed, wouldn’t it be better to have Altuve batting first and having Springer concentrate on bringing him home?
We’re working with a very small sample size here, but if the Houston Astros continue to drop games it would make sense for Altuve to re-take the leadoff spot while dropping Springer down in the order a spot or two. His numbers are fantastic thus far batting leadoff, and it makes sense to have the team’s best contact hitter right behind him to at least move him up a base with the heavy hitters coming up, but there is just something that causes unease with Springer atop the lineup card. I can’t put my finger on it just yet.
With all of that said, what do you think about Hinch’s decision to move Springer up in the order?