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.
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.
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.
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.