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  • George Springer

    Brian McTaggart @brianmctaggart
    Source confirms George Springer gets $3.9 million from Astros, avoiding arbitration.

    Heck of a bargain!

  • #2

    Bob Levey/Getty Images
    Danny KnoblerMLB Lead WriterApril 11, 2017
    Before Alex Bregman and before Carlos Correa and before the Houston Astros had broken out of their 100-losses-a-year rut, George Springer was the guy who was going to key the turnaround.

    "The electric star rebuilding Astros are still missing," the Houston Chronicle called him in the summer of 2013, atop a Brian T. Smith story that included this line: "Out of all the names, numbers, definitelys and maybes in the Astros' improving talent pipeline, Springer is currently the one."

    The turnaround happened. The Astros made the playoffs in 2015 and were talented enough that it was a disappointment when they didn't get back there last October. They have stars like Correa and Bregman and Jose Altuve, who won the American League batting title and finished third in Most Valuable Player voting in 2016.

    The Astros are more likely to get to 100 wins than 100 losses, though if you were writing a similar story this year to the one above, the headline would have been about the front-line starting pitching they're missing.

    It wouldn't have been about Springer, not this spring, though maybe the first week of the season is a reminder it still could be about him. Maybe now that he's 27 years old with 1,500 major league plate appearances behind him, Springer really can be the one.

    He homered four times in the team's first seven games, becoming the first player in major league history to hit three leadoff home runs in the first seven games of a season.

    "I'm not at all shocked," said one National League scout who knows Springer well. "I love the kid."

    He qualifies as a kid, if only barely. He also qualifies as a supertalent with an impressive combination of power and speed, even if that speed isn't translating to stolen bases.

    If you doubt Springer can still run, check out this video from of one of his five triples last year:

    Check out the maximum velocity, which StatCast shows as 21.1 mph. For comparison's sake, StatCast clocked Miami Marlins speedster Dee Gordon at 21.0 mph on a 2015 stolen base.

    Numbers like that catch your eye, and so does the 114.2 mph exit velocity Springer recorded on one of last week's home runs. The estimated distance: 454 feet.

    Electric. Still.

    It's easy to overreact to a first-week power surge. It's worth remembering that while Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Mike Piazza each homered four times in the first seven games of a season, so did Chris Truby, Brandon Inge and Mark Quinn.

    The reasons to believe in Springer were detailed by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

    "Of all the players with delightful first-week numbers, Springer may be the likeliest to take the leap to superstardom this season," Passan wrote Monday, citing Springer's age, walk rate and improving strikeout rate.

    One scout who studied Springer's first week said he seems to be chasing fewer pitches outside the zone and thus getting fastballs he can hit. The statistics say the same thing, as FanGraphs lists Springer's 2017 O-swing percentage (swings on pitches outside the zone) at 20, which is down from 26.1 percent last year.

    Numbers only tell part of the story. Springer's a favorite of baseball people inside and outside the Astros organization because of how he plays the game.

    "I've always been a big fan of his," one AL executive said. "I love his energy."

    "There's an energy when George comes into any building," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said in a spring training interview with the Chronicle's Smith. "Everybody smiles when we see George."

    The smiles were even bigger this past week, because Springer was the biggest reason the Astros had a winning record through seven games for the first time in 11 years. He'd driven in eight of their 21 runs, and three of his four home runs came in games they won.

    The biggest hit of all was a three-run walk-off home run in the 13th inning against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

    When Springer followed that with a leadoff home run Thursday and another one Sunday, Richard Justice of was ready with this tweet:
    Richard Justice @richardjustice

    George Springer has 4 home runs in 7 games and is on a pace to hit 93. That would blow your mind, wouldn't it? @Astros
    April 9, 2017 at 3:27:43 PM CDT
    He's not going to hit 93 home runs, but he might be on the way to being the star the Astros were missing four years ago.

    The electric star. Even with all the other talent the Astros have now, they could still use one of those.


    • #3
      George Springer hits his ninth leadoff home run of the season, setting a new Astros single-season record

      Springer sets club mark with 9th leadoff HR

      By Christian Boutwell /
      HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder George Springer did it again.

      Springer led off Wednesday's 11-8 win over the A's by depositing a 95.4-mph fastball from Jesse Hahn several rows deep into the right-field seats for his Major League-high ninth leadoff homer of the season.

      "It's an incredible tone-setter," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's an incredible tone-setter to begin with -- his presence, his energy when he goes up to bat, his knowledge of the strike zone, his threat to do exactly what he did tonight. That's why he's leading off. He's a middle-of-the-order bat who's leading off the game."

      "I just try to hit the ball hard," Springer said. "There's no real secret."

      Springer's nine leadoff homers are a single-season franchise record, surpassing the previous mark of eight set by himself in 2016 and Craig Biggio in 2001. His 18 career leadoff homers are second in club history behind Biggio's 53.

      MLB's single-season record for leadoff homers is 13 set by Alfonso Soriano in 2003. Springer is the first player to have nine before July.

      "He's just a really good all-around player, and there's really no way around it," Hinch said. "He's demonstrating that with some attention at the top of an order on a really good team. He's a lock for an All-Star appearance, which is more than deserving."

      With the 342-foot shot in the first inning, Springer also set a new franchise record for most home runs from the leadoff spot in a season with 24. Springer is the first Astro with 24 homers before the All-Star break since Lance Berkman had 24 in the first half of 2006.

      "It's cool, it's great," Springer said. "But I'm much happier now to help us win, and start the offense up today."

      Springer's 24 home runs rank second in the American League behind Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (27). Springer leads the AL with 11 home runs in June. The last Astros player with more homers in any month was Chris Carter (12 in August 2014).

      "George is a really good player, I don't care what month it is," Hinch said. "His productivity has obviously exploded this month, but we've seen this in all areas of [his] game.

      "There's not enough praise to talk about George."


      • #4
        ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
        George Springer hit his 26th homer tonight; only Lance Berkman and Jeff Bagwell (twice) have more before All-Star Break in Astros history.

        Mark Berman @MarkBermanFox26
        George Springer hits his 27th home run. Solo. #Astros up 12-1.


        • #5
          Springer masters baseball, speech disorder

          Astros star outfielder hopes to help others dealing with similar issues

          By Richard Justice /
          MIAMI -- There might have been a time when Astros outfielder George Springer could not have imagined doing what he did Tuesday night. Starting in his first All-Star Game was also a pretty cool thing.

          In terms of challenges, Springer has had bigger.

          "He's conquered a lot," teammate Dallas Keuchel, a fellow All-Star, said.

          "Lots of respect for that guy," Astros All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa said.

          Here's the thing that made the 88th MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard -- which the American League won 2-1 in 10 innings -- so remarkable for Springer.

          FOX asked Springer to wear a microphone and do an in-game interview in the bottom of the third inning while playing left field at Marlins Park. (Bryce Harper did the same later in the game while playing right field for the National League.)

          Springer said, "Yes," immediately.

          "It's fun," said the 27-year-old, who was hitless in three at-bats Tuesday night. "It's a little bit of an insight into how the game is being played and what the players have to do. It's not quite the whole thing, but you get the perspective of a player."
          Springer was interviewed on the field tonight and it was fantastic.

          — Houston Astros (@astros) July 12, 2017
          To most athletes, this would be no big deal. To Springer, it symbolized one of the great challenges of his life. He grew up with a fairly severe stutter, the kind that can strip a kid of his self-esteem and lots more.

          Springer overcame that stutter -- or at least learned to manage it -- through therapy, concentration and two incredibly supportive and nurturing parents.

          What the Astros love so much about Springer now is part of what helped him overcome his stutter. He's one of those relentlessly positive, outgoing people, someone who makes everyone feel good to be around.

          Yes, Springer is a great player. Those things can be measured. He entered the All-Star break with 27 home runs, second in the Majors only to Aaron Judge's 30, and a huge reason Houston is 60-29 and leading the AL West by 16 1/2 games.

          "He's probably the best teammate I've ever had," said Phillies reliever Pat Neshek, who spent the 2015 and '16 seasons with the Astros. "He's the guy that runs that team. It's the energy. He's just so positive in the clubhouse with other guys.

          "He gets the clubhouse going. He does the music. It's awesome to see him get the respect he deserves. He's got [Carlos] Correa and [Jose] Altuve there, and sometimes I don't think enough people talk about him. You'd take him on almost any other team, and he'd be the guy you build around."

          And like others who know Springer well, respect extends far behind home runs and positive energy.

          "One of the main things about him is his character," Keuchel said. "He has had to overcome this. This is what he had to do. We all admire that. That's the sign of a real man."
          Springer accepted at an early age that he might stutter at times, and he also accepted that kids might make fun of him at times. When they did, he laughed at himself as well. As he said two years ago: "I understand it's part of what makes me who I am."

          These days, Springer devotes time and energy to encouraging adults and children alike who struggle with stuttering. He hosts an annual charity event in Houston to raise money and awareness, and in 2014, he was named spokesperson for the nonprofit Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY).

          Wearing that microphone and offering commentary symbolized more than just a unique view of baseball's Midsummer Classic.

          "I hope so," Springer said. "I can't spread a message to kids and adults if I'm not willing to put myself out there. I understand I'm going to stutter. I don't care. It is what it is. It's not going to stop me from talking and having fun."

          The thing that allowed Springer to deal with -- and ultimately overcome -- stuttering is part of what has made him so important to the first-place Astros.

          Springer's presence -- his personality, his laughter, his cutting sense of humor -- is so important that Astros manager A.J. Hinch asked him to remain in the dugout when he was on the disabled list two summers ago.

          "He's a guy you want around," Hinch said. "He gets on everybody, including me. He just does not have a bad day."

          That positivity was evident as Springer spoke to announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz during the on-field interview.

          "This is an experience of a lifetime," Springer said. "I'm extremely happy to be here. To be here with all these guys, especially all my teammates, it's been a lot of fun."