This could be a special summer for a certain Astros outfielder.
Sure, it is only the end of June, and we still have all of July and August before we can start even thinking about the fall months. No, seriously, it could be a special summer for Astros outfielder George Springer. Heck, an All-Star appearance should definitely be in play. This all could be part of “The Summer of George”.
In Episode 156 of the classic series “Seinfeld”, George Constanza received a large severance package from the New York Yankees. In response, George claims that the next three months would be known as “The Summer of George.” Unfortunately, his laziness and unwillingness to put any effort into everyday life led to George’s eventual summer downfall. However, the Astros’ own George, George Springer that is, will probably not have the same issue. In fact, his hot start to the summer has thrust him into the conversation for the upcoming All-Star Game in San Diego.
Ever since that rookie year ended with lower body injuries along with an unfortunate wrist injury last season, Springer has been able to keep himself relatively healthy in 2016. Just 76 games into this season heading into tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, Springer has begun to meet the expectations that were thrust upon him after his impressive 2014 season when he hit 20 home runs and 51 RBI in just 78 games.
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Outside of Jose Altuve, there hasn’t been a bigger offensive force in the lineup, when healthy. Not only does he lead the Astros in home runs (16), he has seen his production slightly improve from hitting second (.816 OPS) to (.819 OPS) as the leadoff hitter. Kind of looks like an All-Star level of prowess, huh?
Out of all qualifying right fielders, Springer is ranked in the top five in WAR (2.2), top eleven in wRC+ (121), and top six in BB% (10.9%) entering tonight’s game. This puts the Astros right fielder near the same level of Bryce Harper, Gregory Polanco, and Mookie Betts, each of whom are All-Stars in their own right. That is special company!
In a way, his recent play has been the catalyst for the Astros surge in the standings in June. Of course, when you have a 121 OPS+ for the season then that usually means good things are happening if you’re a hitter. And his defense, by golly, his defense has been otherworldly almost in 2016.
What’s scary is that Springer may only improve! He has the athletic ability to become one of the best outfielders in baseball. And if he continues down this path he is on currently then he could potentially supplant Carlos Correa and Altuve as the most feared hitter in the Astros lineup. He has already met or surpassed the majority of his ZiPS, Steamer, and Depth Chart projections on Fangraphs through the first 70-80 games of this season.
This truly could be “The Summer of George” for the Astros right fielder. Only Altuve is having an arguably better season, and it because of Springer’s contributions as the leadoff that has helped the Astros jumpstart a struggling offense. The question remains whether the rest of baseball will notice what Astros analysts and fans have been saying this entire time.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, & ESPN**