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Saturday, July 8, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: GEORGE SPRINGER OUTFIELDER HOUSTON ASTROS

If one were to start putting together an early 2017 Fantasy Baseball MVP ballot, some of the obvious names that would likely appear in the proceedings would include New York Yankees first baseman Aaron Judge, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, Washington Nats first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, and even hard-charging Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.  However Correa's teammate in outfielder George Springer would also need to be included in any fantasy baseball MVP discussion as he continues on what has been a monster 2017 campaign that most recently included a 4-for-4 and 2-home run night Friday versus the Toronto Blue Jays.  Already considered a low-end OF 1 in fantasy baseball circles coming into the year, Springer is moving to the top of that tier with a performance that has included these numbers going into Saturday's proceedings.

27 HR
74 RBI
60 R
2 SB
.307

The power has been massive here and is right in the ballpark with Judge who has been the home run story of the year.  Springer's natural power is really exploding in 2017 and it is not totally surprising since he is now the magical of 27 when these upticks seem to most occur.  The 74 RBI is also a tremendous numbers and Springer's overall statistics are helped greatly by him batting leadoff.  All those additional plate appearances that come with batting first help boost all the counting numbers and so Springer's stats take on even more impact.

Of course power was always the most stable part of Springer's game and so we don't need to focus as much time there.  Coming into the year, yours truly was lukewarm on Springer due to average concerns and the sudden elimination of his stolen bases that were quite potent in the minors (45 total in 2013).  As far as the average is concerned, Springer hitting .307 is uncharted MLB territory for him.  Since debuting in 2014 when he hit .231, Springer has subsequently batted .276 (2015) and .261 (2016).  Not great averages at all and a lot of that had to do with Springer striking out too much (K/9's from as high as 33.0 to 23.9 in that span).  High walks rates offset the damage some but that still was holding Springer back.  However this season that has not been the case and Springer lowering his K/9 to a career-best at this point 22.4 helps.  Yes a .336 BABIP is also helping but Springer has been a guy who always seems to go above the BABIP curve (.317 or more the last two-plus years) and so he can't automatically be assumed to be someone who will regress starkly in average.  While I won't say Springer will hit .307, he may not fall that much lower from that number.

As far as the steals are concerned, that remains an issue as Springer has just 2 on the year and out of the leadoff spot no less.  Clearly it looks like that part of his game is gone with the wind, much in the same way it has happened with Correa in 2017.  Whether it is the Astros philosophy not to steal or Springer simply not wanting to do it, he no longer can be graded as a five-tool fantasy baseball outfielder.  However the four other tools are all tremendous

So when you put it all together, it is not stretching it to say George Springer has been a fantasy baseball MVP candidate and he has certainly put up major numbers this season.  I feel confident this will only continue and so OF 1 top tier status has been met.


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