Astros review: Grading George Springer’s 2018 season

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 17, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the third inning against the Boston Red Sox during Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 17, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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One of the Astros’ best players, George Springer had another productive season in 2018.

When one thinks of the professional baseball club based in Houston, Texas, they’d likely think of the ‘core four’ of Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman. The only outfielder of that group, the 29-year old slugger, was again a key component towards his team’s success.

Offensive numbers: .265/.346/.434, 22 HR, 71 RBI, 119 wRC+, .169 ISO, 2.9 fWAR

Defensive numbers in the outfield: 1,108 innings, 185 plays, -5 DRS, -2.2 UZR, one error

The most encouraging aspect of Springer’s 2018 performance? The ability to keep his strikeout rate below 20% while maintaining a plus-10% walk rate. As you may recall, Springer had a knack for striking out a lot in his earlier seasons. A 33% strikeout rate during his rookie season stood out for a while. That said, the Astros’ outfielder regressed a bit across the board. His 22 home runs were the fewest in three seasons. While he played the same amount of games — 140 — as the previous season, his power numbers took a bit of a dive.

Defensively speaking, the advanced metrics didn’t particularly care for Springer’s 2018 season. But defensive numbers like DRS and UZR aren’t infallible, so please take those figures with a grain of salt. Springer had made terrific plays in the outfield before and did so again in 2018. His range in the outfield helps drive his value to the Astros.

Regular season grade: B+

The 2017 World Series MVP finished the 2018 ALDS against the Indians with three home runs and a 1.500 OPS. He followed it up with a 1.125 OPS against the Red Sox in the ALCS. However, the Astros were ultimately eliminated in five games. Springer was a key reason behind the team’s second consecutive appearance in the ALCS as both Altuve and Correa were hobbled with injuries. At various points in the series, it felt as if Springer and Bregman were the only hitters that Boston feared in Houston’s lineup.

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Postseason grade: A

For the Astros to succeed in 2019, Springer needs to have another productive season. Preferably a return to his 9.5 fWAR stretch from 2016 through 2017. It is also encouraging to see Springer play in at least 140 games for the third straight season. Remember that he missed extensive time with injuries in 2014 and 2015.

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