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By George, It’s Springer Time

Fantasy owners have been anticipating this day, but never in our wildest dreams could we have conceived that it would come this soon.  Yesterday, the penny pinching Astros announced that George Springer would be promoted prior to Wednesday night’s game.  The hopes are that Springer will jump start the offence and revitalize the slumbering bats in Houston.  OK maybe that is a stretch; the Houston offence is bad overall, but maybe he can help the team score more runs and lend some encouragement to the current cast who couldn’t score in a free brothel.  So what should we expect from Springer?  Let’s start by looking at what the Astros saw when they drafted him.

G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP
2009 56 212 75 16 57 12 32 53 .358 .454
2010 64 243 84 18 62 33 60 70 .337 .492
2011 64 237 60 12 77 31 36 39 .350 .458

Most fantasy players, when they look at a minor league player, never research a players college numbers.  Springer played 3 years of NCAA ball for the Connecticut Huskies.  What stands out most to me (besides the obvious combination of power and speed) is the walk to strikeout ratio.  He showed a patient eye in college, something that would aid his ascension through the minors.  He was drafted with the 11th overall pick in 2011 and has not disappointed.

G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP
2012 A+ 106 433 101 22 82 28 56 131 .316 .398
2012 AA 22 73 8 2 5 4 6 25 .219 .287
2013 AA 73 273 50 19 55 33 42 96 .297 .399
2013 AAA 62 219 56 18 53 32 41 65 .311 .425

Over the past 2 years, Springer’s strikeouts have increased to the point that scouts and fantasy owners worried that he would not be able to maintain a high batting average in the majors.  He struck out 334 times in just under 1,100 at bats, but he also drew 156 walks over that time.  That’s roughly a 1:2 BB/K ratio so while the strikeouts are high, he draws enough walks to compensate.  While Springer put up a .300 average in the minors, that was in the PCL so some of that should be taken with a grain of salt.  There’s a chance it might stick, but even if it falls into the .260 range it shouldn’t matter considering the rest of the tools he brings to the table.  Those tools consist of a high OBP, power and speed.  65 Home runs, 85 stolen bases and an OBP close to .400, even playing for the Astros you have to love the potential here.  And this year Springer picked up right where he left off last season.

G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP
2014 AAA 13 51 17 3 9 4 9 15 .353 .459

Power, check.  Speed, check.  good walk totals, check.  High OBP, check.  The Astros unwrap their new toy today hoping (just like the rest of us) that all that talent displayed in the minors translates to major league success.  Barring a catastrophic disaster or major injury, Springer should be here to stay.  Currently Dexter Fowler is the top hitting outfielder on the team with a robust .237 average, the rest can barely hit their weight.  Best case scenario is that Springer hits the ground running and delivers right away.  Pitchers will challenge him at first before making adjustments so this is his best chance to shine.  Once they adjust and Springer stops seeing a steady diet of fastballs it will be his turn to make some changes; that’s when we’ll see what he’s made of.  He’s shown the ability to adjust and grow in the minors so while he may take a hit when this happens, the drop off shouldn’t be severe.  The worst case scenario would be Springer struggles with his average, hitting in the .260 range.  Personally I can live with something like that as long as the power and speed are present.  So, the worst case is that Springer becomes a modern day Mike Cameron.  That doesn’t make him a fantasy stud, but it does make him an extremely useful fantasy player and deserving of your attention.

If you play in a CBS league the odds are Springer is gone (owned in 80% of leagues), but if you’re in a Yahoo league you might be in luck with only 41% ownership.  This is why the experts tell you to use that spare roster spot on a minor league guy with upside as opposed to some league average fill in.  If you missed out on Springer you may want to stash someone like Gregory Polanco or Javier Baez now while you have a chance.

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Jim Finch
Formally known as Reverend Jim on the Rotoworld, CBS, Yahoo & Sportshoopla boards. Now privileged to be part of The Fantasy Assembly. Unfortunately no relation to Jennie or Sidd Finch. Follow me on Twitter @TheJimFinch
Jim Finch

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6 comments on “By George, It’s Springer Time

  1. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do in the bigs. Obviously, his minor stats are fantastic, but can they translate?

    I have a chance to pick him up (#2 waiver and I think the guy with the #1 might be waiting for a higher ranked guy – probably Baez or Bradley, plus his OF is stacked, and he has Taveras).

    The problem is, my OF is also stacked: Braun, Bautista, and Myers, plus I drafted Polanco, who is now occupying my NA slot, putting up crazy #’s in AAA, and I like better than Springer. So really, I’d have nowhere to play Springer.

    I have Napoli at Util, and Rizzo at first, and I doubt Springer will outplay either of those guys.

    The other top prospect Waiver options that might be available at some point this season are:
    Bradley
    Baez
    Bryant
    Snydergaard
    and then some slightly lower ranked guys like
    Zimmer
    Meyer
    Heaney
    Owens
    Franco

    We can only keep 9, so I guess I’d rather wait for a better position of need guy. There’s never enough pitching, and a MI with Baez’s potential are rare.

    I think I’ll pass and wait for Bradley or Baez, or whichever bigger name guy comes up in June.

    Is that the right choice?

    Last year I had the #1 and struck early with Gausman (who let me down), but luckily I was back to #4 when Meyers got called up, and somehow I got him. I can’t count on that happening again this year, though.

    I’m off to a good start (2-0 in a weekly points league), but 3 of my 5 best starters are currently out: Kershaw, Cobb, and Fister. So the next few weeks could be rough.

    • I own both Springer & Baez in my keeper league, but if given a choice between them, I would choose Baez. But, since springer is up now and Baez is on the minor league DL, I could be persuaded to take Springer now. You could wait for Baez, but the pitfall in that is, you have one person ahead of you and have no clue who he’s waiting for.

      You could hold and pass on Springer, but then you’re putting all your faith in Polanco. If he doesn’t work out and the guy with the number one priority uses it on Baez when he comes up, what are you left with?

      Napoli is your utility guy, but he just dislocated his finger so a DL trip or reduced playing time could be in the cards. Plus, over the course of his career, Napoli has never scored more than 79 runs, only had more than 75 RBIs once and is not known to hit for average. Add in the Braun’s nerve damage issue and Bautista missing time the past two years and you’ve got 3 potential holes.

      If Springer does hit out of the gate, he could be better than Napoli for this year, and in a keeper league his trade value would be high. Any rookie you pick up is a gamble, and there is no guarantee Springer will hit just like there is no guarantee Baez will hit. Looking at the list of potential call ups available in your league, unless you have nothing at SS and unless you are guaranteed to get Baez, I would take Springer now. You know your league and team better than I do, so take those factors plus what I said into consideration and make your choice from there. There is no wrong decision here.

  2. Good points. I have Desmond at SS, so I’m OK there. I have a few days to decide, so I could see how he starts. If he has a couple of big games, I might pick him up, and then maybe try to work a trade.

    You’re right in that I probably won’t get Baez (the guy ahead of me is also a Cubs fan), but he also has Bogaerts, so I don’t know what he’ll do. But who knows where Baez will end up playing? Castro is off to a good start, which could A) cement his place in the Cubs Core or B) increase his trade value to where he gets moved for a stud pitcher when Baez is ready.

    I’m kind of thinking I’m waiting for either Bradley or Baez, both of whom could be up mid-season and could contribute. But yeah, it’s a tough call. Myers is off to a slow start too, so I guess if Springer starts hot, I could bench Myers.

    In our points league, Napoli is good because he walks. Low average is OK, as long as he provides power and OBP. That’s another reason I think Springer will be pretty valuable, actually. Oh, what to do.

    • Considering you use a MI slot, the presence of Bogaerts on his team means nothing. With Castro off to a good start, there is that chance Baez could come up as and play second or third. Add on the fact he’s a cubs fan and you’re doomed. Any chance Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor or Addison Russell are/will be available? They’re not Baez, but very good alternatives if you take another route. You do have Desmond so you’re not in an immediate need of a shortstop. This one is a gut call, but don’t make your decision based upon a few at bats over the next few days. Not everyone is Mike Trout out of the gate.

      I like that you use OBP over BA. More leagues should do this, gives a little more value to guys like Napoli and Adam Dunn.

  3. Actually, we don’t have a MI slot – just 1 Util. Most guys play an extra 1B or OF there, as they tend to have the most depth.

    In our Yahoo league, guys become available when they are on the 40 man roster, or called up to the bigs. They are on waivers for a few days (we have until the 19th to put in a claim on Springer). So all those other SS’s will become available when they get called up. I’d be interested in Correa and Russell, but Lindor won’t be worth much in my league. Both of those guys are at least a year away, though.

    I was just thinking that the guy with the #1 waiver had it last year as well, and held it all year until Bogaerts came up, so he passed on Myers and Cole (both of which I ended up with – Cole in a trade later on), and several other guys. I could easily see him waiting for the highest ranked guy again, which would be Bradley or Baez. If I wait, I’d be guaranteed one of those.

    We have a pts league, where everything counts (but no penalty for K’s – an out’s an out), so a BB or a HBP are the same as a 1B, so the high OBP guys do well.

    I’ll keep an eye on it, but still haven’t decided what to do!

    • I was under the assumption you used a MI slot since you mentioned it above. In that case, given you have SS covered for at least a few more years (never know when the bottom will fall out), concentrate more on strengthening you’re outfield. Myers is a great start, but Bautista & Braun both have questions. Springer would make a great addition. I’m hesitant on Bradley; don’t get me wrong he’s a great pitcher, but with all the pitching injuries I’ve become a little gun.

      Since you have to wait until they get added to the 40 man roster you’ve basically got you pick of minor league players, but I suggest you go OF with Springer or Polanco. A healthy Buxton or Taveras could also be an option and Joc Pederson could even make an interesting flyer (I added him when Springer was promoted). Then, depending on where you are in the standings, trade Braun or Bautista (hopefully Braun is still healthy enough to get full value) to improve elsewhere. You might even be able to use one of those two and get the rookie you missed out on. It’s thinking ahead like this that will keep you ahead of the other guys. If you add Springer, what’s your next move and the move after that.

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