February 24, 2014 posted by Chuck Anderson

2014 Fantasy Baseball One For the Future: George Springer

2014 Fantasy Baseball One For the Future: George Springer
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The 24-year-old UConn product spent the second half of 2013 in Triple-A.  He will probably return there to begin this season, but he will eventually unseat L.J. Hoes or Robbie Grossman.  George Springer ranked as a top 20 prospect on Baseball America, ESPN and Baseball Prospectus.  For fantasy owners he offers a power/speed combination that could make him an elite talent.

Springer’s raw numbers are so good they induce a double take.  He roughly split 135 games between Double-A and Triple-A and hit .303/.411/.600.  He crushed 37 home runs while stealing 45 bases (caught eight times).  His wRC+ split was 174/175.  Mike Trout’s was 176 last year.

Springer’s home park in Double-A historically plays well for hitters, but his Triple-A abode was closer to neutral.  He performed better at the higher level even with this disadvantage.

Double-A 0.44 .282 2.5 5.5 .390
Triple-A 0.63 .315 2.9 8.2 .362

He does not suffer from much of a platoon split either. When facing righties he still slugged over .600 and posted a .998 OPS in the Pacific Coast League.

Springer’s BABIPs are consistently high and, accordingly, many scouting profiles mention his “hard contact”.  Digging into the numbers, there is nothing special about his 18.45% line drive rate.  For a power hitter his GB/FB ratio was a sub-optimal 1.37.  His distribution shows a heavy tendency towards pulling the ball however.  Some quick math reveals a 35% HR/FB ratio.  That sounds doubtful, but Fangraphs’ own Glossary states that few home runs come from line drives.  Chalk it up to some unreliability in minor league batted ball splits, but the fact remains that when Springer squares a pitch up it tends to travel a long way.

Springer’s strikeout rates are also very high, although his 24.4% in Triple-A was his lowest as a professional outside the Arizona Fall League.  He is not young relative to his competition, which is Addison Russell’s advantage.  ESPN’s Keith Law thinks he could “strike out 180 times a year and still hit .280 or better.”  John Sickles uses .280 as a baseline as well, says Springer may never reach it, but he can maintain a “so-so average” and be “possibly an All Star.”  Law also sees midsummer classic games in his future.

Springer could flounder in the majors if there is a hole in his swing that high-level pitchers can consistently exploit.  His pull-happy approach suggests it may exist, but no scouting profile seems very worried.  A player with this many fantasy skills needs to be snapped up as soon as he is promoted.  He is worth stashing in AL-only leagues with any bench space.


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