If the 2015 Houston Astros can be remembered for one thing, it very well may be for the breakout of a few select players.
The players I reference are of course Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel. Both burst onto the scene to win two notable awards, the AL Rookie of the Year and AL Cy Young Award, last season. They also surpassed their 2015 projections to some extent or another. But last season is old news, the only thing that matters now is what the team does in 2016. And there are a few players that the Houston Astros need to see a breakout to help organization’s continued ascent into contention; one such player is none other than the emerging George Springer.
There hasn’t been one player on the Astros more snakebitten with injuries during the past two seasons than Springer. Between nagging leg injuries in 2014 and the broken wrist in 2015, the former first-round pick has seen plenty of game action from the disabled list. No fault of his own, but it is what it is. However, the 2016 season may be the season that Springer is finally afforded enough good fortune to stay on the field for more than 100 games. And if that happens, the rest of the league better watch out.
Springer, entering his age-26 season, is one of the Astros most dynamic players. Between the potential at the plate and his quality defense in the outfield, the former UConn product is one of the most talented players to walk through Minute Maid Park in quite some time. Even though his 2015 season was cut to just 102 games due to that broken wrist, Springer still managed to show the baseball world what he is capable of when healthy (16 HR, 49 RBI, .276/.367/.459, 3.7 WAR, 129 wRC+). For comparison sake, Jose Altuve produced a 4.3 WAR and 120 wRC+ in 154 games. And if you wanted to go for a similar comp, look no further than Correa’s WAR of 3.3 and 133 wRC+ in 99 games. So one could basically said he was on the heels of Altuve while producing similar value to Correa, the AL Rookie of the Year.
Now that could be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Correa is projected to have the higher ceiling than Springer and Altuve is a different type of hitter in certain facets. But to be in the same company as two teammates like those two, that has to be noted. The Astros should be excited at the heart of the lineup for 2016 with Springer entrenched at the top of the order.
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But what should the Astros expect from Springer this season? Fangraphs Steamer and Fan projection systems have the right fielder setting a few career highs, and overall an impressive 2016 season if healthy.
2016 Fangraphs Steamer Projections:
.256/.343/.463, 26 HR, 74 RBI, .207 ISO, .315 BABIP, 122 wRC+, 3.1 WAR
2016 Fangraphs Fan Projections:
.268/.363/.488, 27 HR, 91 RBI, .220 ISO, .325 BABIP, 134 wRC+, 4.8 WAR
I also created my own “guesstimate” for Springer this upcoming season.
.272/.357/.475, 27 HR, 88 RBI, .215 ISO, .320 BABIP, 125 wRC+, 3.8 WAR
Of course, all of these projections are only possible if Springer is on the field for at least 125 games, and preferably up to 140-145 games. But there is no denying the talent he possesses and how the Astros are a better team when he is on the field. Health remains the biggest area of concern for Springer, and it will determine how close he will come to his 2016 projections. And who knows, if he enjoys the breakout season everyone is hoping on, then he could thrust himself into the conversation as one of the best overall outfielders in baseball.
**Statistics and projections provided by Fangraphs**