What kind of production can Astros fans expect from star outfielder George Springer in 2017?
For the first two seasons of his major league career, George Springer showed flashes of brilliance. He also missed significant time due to injury. Astros fans wondered what sort of numbers he would put up if only he stayed healthy.
Springer answered those questions in 2016, playing in all 162 games. After a bit of a slow start, manager A.J. Hinch moved him to the leadoff spot, and both Springer and the team flourished as a result.
Springer totaled a career-high 29 home runs, 29 doubles and 86 RBIs. He also posted high strikeout and walk rates, totaling 178 and 88 respectively. Overall, it was good for a .261/.359/.457 slash line.
Interestingly, Springer’s base stealing took a nosedive. After stealing 16 bases in 20 attempts in 2015, he totaled just nine steals in 19 attempts in 2016. No doubt he’ll be looking to improve on that in 2017, which brings us to the projections.
The crystal ball
FanGraphs ZiPS projections put Springer at a .251/.350/.462 slash line, which is a slight tick downward from his 2016 numbers. His counting stats fall slightly as well, with the projections of 26 homers, 23 doubles, and 76 RBIs. He’s also projected to steal 12 bases in 18 attempts.
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It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these projections include Springer having a total of 590 plate appearances. In his fully healthy 2016, he totaled 744 plate appearances. If he stays injury-free in 2017, expect the counting stats to be higher.
Also of note will be how much time he spends in center field as opposed to right field. With the addition of Josh Reddick, Springer will likely spend the bulk of his time in center, though that will fluctuate daily with Hinch’s lineup decisions. FanGraphs has Springer playing right field in its projection, and he’s projected for 3.5 WAR in 2017.
It’s also certainly possible that Springer continues to make strides in his offensive approach and plate discipline. In what will be his age-27 season, there still may be some room for growth. It would not be surprising at all to see him blow past these projections, provided he remains healthy throughout the season. If he does, he’ll be a key piece of an Astros team with World Series aspirations.
***Projections courtesy of FanGraphs ZiPS***
***Statistics courtesy of baseball-reference.com***