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2017 Player Profiles: George Springer

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Can the Astros outfielder take his game to another level or is he basically what he is at this point?

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

First, Happy New Year everyone!

  1. To see if he fixed the issues I wanted him to correct in that profile
  2. Given the results of number 1 and his 2016 numbers, does he have another level of performance in him or has he peaked? What can we expect in 2017?

Let’s start with number 1 because, you know, it’s first.

He had an 18.4% SwStr% in 2014, which was third worst in baseball. How’s he done since then? 13.9% in 2015 then 12.4% in 2016. Not surprisingly, his batting average went from 0.231 in 2014 to 0.276 and 0.261 in 2015 and 2016. The 2016 number is surprising considering he improved his swinging strike rate. A quick look at BABIP confirms that luck was the big difference between 2015 and 2016.

His 2015 BABIP was a crazy 0.342 while his 2016 value of 0.317 was much more reasonable. To add to that, his contact% was almost 5% higher in 2016 than in 2015, at a career high 73.8%, so he really should have had a much better average in 2016 than 2015. He improved in both in-zone and out-of-zone contact. All of this plate discipline increase came despite pitchers throwing him just 43.1% of pitches in the zone, a career low (using Baseball Info Solutions numbers).

His walk rate only saw a tiny boost from 11.1% to 11.8% in 2016, despite all the out of zone pitches and plate discipline improvements, but it did still go up. His 23.9% K% is now just a hair above league average of 21.1%. His batting average of 0.261 was better than the league average of 0.255. Has he fixed his issues and greatly improved his contact/batting average?

Thanks, Pam, for clearing that up. Let’s move on to number 2.

Does he have another level? Well, we’ve already established that he probably deserved a better batting average in 2016 than he ended up with, so I think there is room for growth there. How about power and speed, his best attributes as a prospect?

Well, he had 16 steals in just 451 PA in 2015, which was very promising. However, last year he had an incredible 744 PA (most in MLB) and only had nine steals. All this despite batting leadoff or second all season. That’s not a good sign. His Spd score of 4.7 in 2016 puts him at 176th in MLB. His BsR (a measure of baserunning value) was -0.4, meaning he actually cost his team on the basepaths by running into outs. Again, these are not good signs.

Steamer projects him for 13 steals in 2017, but I’m betting the under on that one. He was in the perfect position in the order and was healthy all season and still got only nine steals. Now he will be one year older (speed declines every year), so...yeah I’m not betting on more than 10 steals.

As for his power, his ISO went from a ho-hum 0.183 (league average was 0.150) in 2015 to a very good 0.196 in 2016, good for 60th highest in baseball. His slugging stayed almost exactly the same. Additionally, his fly ball and line drive average exit velocities of 94.1 mph and 94.6 mph in 2015 and 2016 were very close to each other and very good, in the top 60 in baseball both years. His home run and fly ball distance average in 2015 was a great 294 feet, 53rd in MLB. In 2016, that fell to 290 feet (98th), but was still decent.

Unfortunately, all that means that he really hasn’t grown in the power department much. I think his power has peaked. He will be 28 years old in 2017 and rarely do players increase their power at this point.

So, let’s put all these findings together into a 2017 projection.

2017 Projection:

0.270/0.370/0.470 with 27 HR, 95 R, 80 RBI, and 10 steals.

I gave him a boost in batting average and bumped up OBP and slugging accordingly. Otherwise, I expect similar walk rates and power as in 2016. That does boost his fantasy value slightly over 2016, so adjust your draft values accordingly. I think we can all give up our dreams of a 35 HR/20 SB season happening and accept that he is just a very good outfielder, worthy of a 5th round draft pick in most leagues. Tschus!