George Springer addressed durability concerns by playing in every game of the 2016 season. His metrics were very much in line with his 2015 efforts nearly across the board. He did set career highs in the counting categories with 29 homers and benefitted from Jose Altuve hitting behind him to score 116 runs. As long as Springer maintains his ability to get on base (.356 career OBP), there is little reason to move him out of the leadoff spot. While he does strike out a bit, he has improved his rate each season to date. Splits-wise, he does prefer lefties (.267/.391/.517; 14 percent walk rate, 23 percent strikeout rate) over righties (.255/.342/.437; 11 percent walks, 27 percent Ks) but his numbers against right-handers are not a killer, though it does help frame why it will be tougher for him to hit for a higher average. The next phase of improvement will be to get more loft on the ball, as a near 50 percent groudball rate is too high for someone with his pop.
Springer will be looking to steal more bases in 2017, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Springer is an emerging outfield talent who threatens opponents in a variety of ways, but hasn't run as much in the majors as he did in the minors. As the Astros' projected leadoff hitter, Springer's wheels can spark a rally, but after getting caught a league-leading 10 times in 2016, he clearly needs some schooling. Coaches are teaching him skills to make him more successful -- things like how to get a good lead, working on his start, and picking up the cues that will make him better.
Springer will be the Astros leadoff hitter to start 2017, according to manager A.J. Hinch, Joshua Reese of CBS Houston reports. "I love his presence at the top, speed, power, on-base, he does everything that you would ask out of a lead-off guy," Hinch said of Springer. Hinch made this call before the Astros officially reported to West Palm Beach (Fla.) for spring training, but its merely a continuation of Springer's role last season. The 27-year-old outfielder started 116 games as the Astros leadoff hitter, and while his numbers were pretty much the same regardless where he landed in the batting order, Springer's emerging power -- he belted 29 homers in 2016 -- will give opposing pitchers an added element to deal with at the start of games.
Springer agreed to a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Astros on Friday, avoiding arbitration, the Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan reports. This was his first offseason as an arbitration-eligible player. He is coming off a year where he set career highs in home runs (29), runs (116) and RBI (82), thanks to playing in all 162 games, up from the 102 he played in 2015. The one disappointment was a dip in steals, as Springer stole just nine bases and no longer looks like a 20/20 threat in the big leagues. That said, he packs plenty of power and should continue to be a good source of counting stats hitting near the top of a loaded Astros lineup.
Springer went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI in Tuesday's win over the Mariners. Springer now has multiple hits in four games in a row as he is getting hot at the right time for the Astros as they continue to push for the playoffs. He is now up to 115 runs scored this season, good for fourth in the major leagues. Extra-base hits have been a big reason why -- Tuesday's double was his 29th, and he's now up to 62 extra-base hits in 158 games.
Springer went 1-for-3 with a solo home run and a walk in Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Mariners. Springer got Houston on the board with his third-inning long ball off rookie Ariel Miranda. The home run was his 28th of the season and third this month. Springer has struggled at the dish lately, going just 3-for-30 over his last eight games while striking out 11 times. Two of those hits have cleared the fence, however, and he did not strike out on Sunday.