Astros’ George Springer brings the lead from the leadoff spot
Astros fans could be witness to one of the best individual seasons in club history.
Houston Astros fans, we are witnessing something special with George Springer. He was a beacon of light during the ‘Process’ that the future was bright. While we were losing 100 games a year, all eyes were on Springer as he tore through the minor leagues. Springer showed an ability to hit for power with speed in the minors, but stolen bases are not his thing.
Springer did steal two bases Wednesday night, passing Brian McCann finally. McCann had two stolen bases and made sure he kept reminding Springer about that fact. Springer is one of the fastest runners on the team, maybe steals will come later. Right now, his job is to be the spark plug for this offense.
The Astros offense ranks high in most offensive categories, which is why they have 59 wins at this point. Last night, Springer was 4-4 with two homers and a double. Pacing the Stros to a 12-2 win over the Blue Jays. He passes Brady Anderson for hitting the most homers batting first.
Springer has been the leadoff hitter for every game that he has started this year, and has hit 27 homers. He has nine homers leading off the game and has driven in 60 runs. According to Richard Justice, “1st leadoff hitter in history to have 27 HR before All-Star Break.” He is also the first leadoff hitter in Astros history to have four multi-homer games in a season according to High Heat Stats.
Hanging with the past sluggers.
Via ESPN, Springer is tied for third in Astros history with homers before the break. Lance Berkman had 29 in 2002. Jeff Bagwell had 28 in 1998 and 27 in 1994. We all remember that season for Bagwell as he won the MVP because of the strike that shut down the season. That is elite company for Springer to have in Houston history.
Speaking of Bagwell, Springer is on pace for 50 homers this season. The Astros season record was Bagwell in 2000 when he clobbered 47 homers. What about for a center fielder? The club record for homers by a center fielder is 44 homers, which has been achieved twice, the last was Richard Hidalgo in 2000. If you are looking strictly as a center fielder, Springer has 15 so far. To be fair, Hidalgo only had 37 as a center fielder that year.
One of the more important stats for Springer is his 74 runs scored. The club record for runs scored in a season is 152 by Bagwell in 2000. Springer is doing great scoring runs, but he’s only on pace for 138 runs this year. What Bagwell did that year was special, it is hard to duplicate. There is no telling what Springer will do this season.
No longer the prince of the strikeouts.
When Springer first came up, he was very strikeout prone. At this point, he has a career low strikeout rate of 22.7%. In fact, according to Fangraphs, Springer is making contact with pitches in the strike zone 84.1% of the time. This is the new and improved Springer has an impressive slash line of .307/ .378/ .614/ .992.
Next: Three Astros who are most likely to win the AL MVP
Baseball fans across the nation will witness what Springer can do in his first All-Star game on Tuesday. Will he leadoff for the AL team? Not sure, but if Brad Mills wants to win, Springer should bat first followed by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, ESPN, and MLB.com Astros Season Records***