Houston Astros 2015 Season Recap: George Springer
Houston Astros 30 Players in 30 Days: George Springer
The Houston Astros drafted George Springer with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft out of the University of Connecticut. Springer would tear through minor-league pitching, including a 37 home run season in 2013. The Astros called up Springer on April 16, 2014, and after a slow start he would go through a tear at the end of May where he hit seven home runs in seven games. He would only play in 80 games in 2014, though, as his season was cut short due to a quadriceps injury. In his half of a season, Springer slashed .231/.336/.468 and hit 20 home runs, but struck out 114 times via Baseball-Reference.
Springer was the Opening Day right fielder for the Astros in 2015 but was slow offensively coming out of the gate. He did not record his first multi-hit game until April 24, and he did it in six at-bats. Through the end of April, he slashed a low .200/.300/.365 with three home runs, 13 walks, and 31 strikeouts in only 22 games.
On May 19, his average would bottom out at .185 with an unlucky .213 BAbip, but his on-base percentage remained a respectable .327. On May 24, A.J. Hinch moved Springer from the third spot in the line-up to the lead-off position and the move worked out as he collected 14 hits in his last 11 May games with a .500 BAbip.
In June, Springer would stay hot; from June 1 through June 21, Springer slashed .407/.448/.642 in 20 games with five home runs and only 19 strikeouts. He raised his batting average from .224 to .284 in just three weeks. His bat would go cold, though, and ended the month with only four hits in his last 33 at-bats.
On July 1, the Astros were looking for a sweep at home against the Kansas City Royals. Springer would get the start in center field and single in his first at-bat. After a fly out in the third innings, Springer would step up to the plate after a Jason Castro walk. Edinson Volquez hit Springer on the wrist with a fastball on a 0-1 count. Springer finished the inning on the bases and eventually scored, but Domingo Santana pinch-hits for him in the sixth inning.
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After the game, it was revealed that Springer fractured his right wrist and would miss a significant amount of time. At the time of his injury, Springer was hitting .264/.365/.457 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles and 14 stolen bases and the Astros record was 47-34.
Springer missed 53 games, and the team would go 26-27 over that span. On Sept. 4, Springer joined the Astros after a short minor-league stint and went 1-for-4 against the Minnesota Twins. He stayed in the leadoff spot for a few weeks until Hinch decided to move him into the second spot behind Jose Altuve. Springer did not hit a home run after his return until Sept. 20 against the Oakland A’s, but he hit .368/.429/.632 from that point through the end of the season.
Springer finished 2015 slashing .276/.367/.459 in 102 games with 16 home runs and 41 RBIs. According to Baseball Reference, his at-bats per home runs rose from 14.8 to 24.3, but his strikeout percentage declined from 33% to 24.2% and his line-drive rate rose as well. He may best work out as a lead-off hitter because with two outs and RISP, Springer only had seven hits in 45 plate appearances with nine RBIS.
He had six outfield assists in 2015 including three double plays turned. Sabermetric fielding statistics are not kind to Springer, but there is no doubt that he is an impact in right field and makes highlight plays routinely.
In the postseason, Springer would start and bat second in all six games. He got off to a hot start with a hit in each of his first four games including a home run and three RBIs, but he would go hitless in his last two games and eight at-bats.
More Houston Astros Season Recaps:
- Vince Velasquez
- Tony Sipp
- Jonathan Villar
- Preston Tucker
- Mike Fiers
- Hank Conger
- Chad Qualls
- Jon Singleton
- Joe Thatcher
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Josh Fields
- Jake Marisnick
- Pat Neshek
- Jed Lowrie
- Luis Valbuena
- Scott Feldman
- Evan Gattis
- Will Harris
- Luke Gregerson
- Chris Carter
- Jason Castro
- Scott Kazmir
- Carlos Gomez
- Lance McCullers
- Colby Rasmus
- Collin McHugh
What to expect in 2016
Barring injury, Springer is undoubtedly the Astros’ starting right fielder in 2016 and the foreseeable future. Although his power numbers dropped in 2015, his overall approach at the plate improved. He still swings and misses badly more than he should, but he has excellent plate vision and is suited well at the top of the line-up.
Next: Why Jose Altuve cannot be traded
Any combination of Altuve, Springer, and Carlos Correa to start a game offensively should make any opposing pitcher uncomfortable. Springer is still capable of hitting 40+ home runs if he can stay healthy for a full season and he now has the line-up protection to do so.