Astros: Is it sacrilege to move George Springer out of the lead-off spot?
By Josh Sippie
The Houston Astros offense is coming around, but two guys aren’t—Jose Altuve and George Springer. Is it time for a swap?
George Springer leading off, Jose Altuve not far behind. It’s been the Houston Astros way throughout the booming years of success. But this year, it’s been far from the successful combination that it’s been in the past.
Altuve cannot figure out his approach at the plate. He’s striking out more than ever before, he’s watching all the good pitches go by and swinging at the bad. And Springer isn’t doing much better, though he did do something Altuve hasn’t been able to do and land himself at a .200 average after the series opener against Seattle.
But still—two MVP candidates and very little to show between them. Even Kyle Tucker is hitting better than Altuve and as good as Springer, and he’s looked inconsistent at best.
George Springer is a lead-off man, but is he the Astros best lead-off man?
It might be time to shake things up. To do something that hasn’t been done in ages and run with a lineup that doesn’t see Springer leading off, but rather Jose Altuve.
Here’s the lowdown: With the bases empty, as they often are when you bat lead-off, Springer is hitting a paltry .103. With runners on base, that jumps up to .278—higher than his career average.
Meanwhile, for Jose Altuve, when there are men on base he’s even lower than Springer without guys on base—.094. Yet with guys on base he’s hitting .256, a number he’d kill for these days.
The big question is how drastically do you take measures when a lot of other pieces are falling into place. Alex Bregman is coming around, Yordan Alvarez is back, Yuli Gurriel is spraying, Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado are flying under the radar. A lot is going right. And a lot has gone right with Altuve and Springer batting exactly where they are.
But that is in the past. And seeing as how swapping them won’t exactly disrupt anybody else, is it really so radical to give it a try?
It would be a shock to the system to see Springer anywhere but in the lead-off spot. What would our first-at bat look like without the threat of a lead-off Springer Dinger? But the numbers paint a very, very obvious picture. Even if everyone else is coming around, that Astros could be leagues above an offensively flat MLB if they can get these two guys supercharged and ready to go.