Will we see George Springer wondering center field in 2017 for the Astros?
Welcome to the post-Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus era for the Houston Astros. At the beginning of 2016, many people thought the Astros had one of the better outfield trios in the game. However, outside of George Springer, that combo of players did not live up to the hype. Gomez was released, and Rasmus was somewhere.
The remaining outfielder Springer is part of the big core of Astros players. He is joined by Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and the emerging Alex Bregman. Yulieski Gurriel hasn’t acceded to this group yet, but a great start to 2017 will add him in. What you might notice is that there are not any other outfielders in that core group.
Without any offseason moves, the Astros will have an outfield consisting of Jake Marisnick, Teoscar Hernandez, and Springer. There is also a chance that Gurriel or Bregman could be moved to the outfield if A.J. Reed has a good spring training. Preston Tucker and Tony Kemp could also make their presence felt in the battle as well.
We talked outfield free agents and trade options on Talking Stros.
If Marisnick is an everyday player, he will obviously be the center fielder. Hernandez and Kemp could play there as well. Springer is one of the top right fielders in the game, but could he have to move to centerfield in 2017? Let’s say that Gurriel has to play left field. You would want to have an elite fielder in center field.
If you chose Hernandez over Marisnick, you are choosing offensive ability over defense. Jake Kaplan writes that whether Springer “stays in right field or moves to center will depend on the front office’s moves this winter.” If the Astros go out to get a player like Josh Reddick, they might need to move Springer to center.
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The personnel of the team will be a deciding factor, but you have to imagine that the first choice would be to keep him in right field. Hernandez did not look as fluid when he played in right field last year. You need Springer in right field, especially with his arm to throw out runners. There are fewer walls in center field to run into.
Speaking of walls in center field, they will be more in play this year after Tal’s Hill removal. With the walls moved into 409 feet, outfielders will have to make adjustments. We don’t have to worry about players hurting themselves on the hill anymore. There may be a corner between the new wall and the bullpen, but we will have to wait to see.
Who plays center will be something to keep track of the offseason. Check back with CTH for the latest news. For now, this is something to think about.