Here is a post that hopefully becomes moot. Hopefully, the market is not red hot for an over 30 y.o. George Springer. Hopefully, George holds no ill will towards the Astros for artificially holding him in the minors when their team was hopelessly bad and cost him millions in pay and an earlier shot at free agency. Hopefully, we wake up one morning and he’s back for 4 or 5 more years.
But if he isn’t…….we’ll always have Paris or the baseball equivalent.
Some random memories of Springer’s time in the organization.
Like a Carly Simon hit sung over slow dripping ketchup, the 2013 season was the ultimate tease for Astro fandom. Springer was tearing things up at AA/AAA that season finishing with a .303 BA/.411 OBP/1.010 OPS slash, 106 RBIs/37HRs/ 108 RBIs/45 SBs in only 135 games. Astro fan-dom was stuck with watching the 51-111 Astros stumble through a season where Springer’s numbers would have dominated every statistical category. How could we possibly replace L.J. Hoes or Brandon Barnes with King George?
And to just be sure on pushing his “dates” out, the Astros then did not start the 2014 season with Springer, bringing him up two weeks into the season where they could be sure to shove his arbitration and free agent dates out farther.
Streaky from the Start.
After a couple weeks, the fans were wondering what the big deal was. George finished April 2014 with a miserable .182 BA/ .262 OBP/ .480 OPS slash and 5 errors in 14 games. He then had an excellent 10 HR/ 25 RBI May where he seemed to be a part of everything positive that happened with the team that month. He cooled off in June, but in a precursor of the future, he went down with an injury in July and never returned.
For anyone with a personal challenge, it is tough to deal with those in your personal lives much less in front of the world. George had a problem. George was a life long stutterer and now he was thrust into a place where he would have to speak very publicly almost every day of the season. Springer handled this with the utmost class, being very forward about it in interviews and by supporting fellow stutterers through his Camp SAY. His bravery touched a lot of positive tones with his fans and with people, who share his challenge.
By his second season, the Astros started experimenting with putting Springer in the leadoff role and by the time 2016 rolled around that became his normal spot in the lineup. A lot of us (and this writer was one of us) were wondering why the Astros would move a guy who was a terrible base stealer, a moderate, but improving on base guy and someone with the most power in the lineup to the leadoff spot. But it became apparent that this was a chemistry thing. When George rocked out of the first spot the lineup rolled. When he led the game off with a home run, the team fell in behind him in the hit parade. It turned out to be a great choice.
Early on the word was that George Springer not only stirred the drink on the field, but in the clubhouse too. He brought in strobe lights, a fog machine and loud techno music and created what he called “Club Astros”. It was pretty apparent in watching the team that these guys were having fun and that became infectious with the fans. His personality and inclusiveness may be missed as much as his talent with this team.
One of the things that was easily forgotten about George Springer’s crazy 2017 post season is that he actually hit very well in the first round win over the Red Sox, putting up a .412 BA/ .474 OBP/ 1.180 OPS. What we do remember is what happened next. He fell off the earth with a 3 for 26 effort against the Yankees in the ALCS. Then he struck out 4 straight times in the World Series opener. Fandom went bat guano crazy with wanting him sat or dropped in the lineup. Instead A.J. Hinch put his confidence in Springer, who then went bat guano crazy hitting 5 HRs, scoring 8 runs and driving in 7 runs and reeling in the World Series MVP award.
In the end, if we never see George Springer play in an Astros uniform again, he can leave knowing he earned every dime he made here plus a lot more. He played the game intensely and with joy and with a large amount of talent.
George good luck wherever you may go, but we sure wish it was back to Houston.