After two seasons with the Jays, George Springer showed us he was a very good offensive player who had trouble staying healthy.
In 2021, he had a .264/.352/.555 line with 22 home runs in 78 games, good for a 2.3 bWAR in half a season of playing time.
In 2022, he played 133 games, with a .267/.342/.472 line, 25 home runs, and a 4.0 bWAR.
We hoped the team would pick up a better fielding center fielder and move Springer to the right field to take some of the stress off him. A center fielder moves on every ball hit into the outfield, backing up the corner outfielders, and he backs up throws to second. He moves on almost every play.
It wasn’t that he was a bad center fielder, but he was getting to the age when you’d like to take some of the stress off of him with the hope that he could play more.
The Jays found a couple of guys who were better defensive players than Springer and moved him to right field. It worked. He played in 154 games this year.
In what is going to become a pattern in this year’s look at our batters, Springer didn’t hit as well as we hoped he would:
Baseball Reference has him at a 2.1 WAR. FanGraphs at 2.2, making him worth $17.3 million to the Jays.
He had a wOBA of .320 (down from .352 last year) and a wRC+ of 104 (down from 132).
Compared to 2022, Springer’s walk rate was down slightly (8.8 from 9.3%), and his strikeout rate was up a bit (18.3% from 17.2).
His line-drive rate was up (20.4% from 17.9), the ground ball rate was about the same as last year (44.2% from 44.5), and the fly-ball rate was down slightly (35.4% from 37.6). Fewer of his fly balls were leaving the park (12.1% from 15.9%).
George’s hard contact rate was up (33.4% from 32.1), and the soft contact rate was down (15.9% from 18.7).
Springer’s BABIP was .291 (.285 last year).
Like last year George hit RHP (.262/.327/.411) better than LHP (.242/.331/.379).
He hit slightly better on the road (.266/.329/.416) than at home (.249/.326/.393).
George hit .269/.359/.324 with RISP. It's not the power we’d like to see, but not many of our guys hit well with RISP.
He hit better in the first half (.269/.330/.422) than in the second half (.243/325/.382).
Springer by month:
- April: .225/.283/.315 with 3 home runs, 8 walks, and 20 strikeouts in 28 games.
- May: .287/.368/.465 with 4 home runs, 13 walks, and 16 strikeouts in 26 games.
- June: .286/.339/.457 with 4 home runs, 8 walks, and 21 strikeouts in 27 games.
- July: .191/.273/.292 with 2 home runs, 7 walks, and 21 strikeouts in 21 games.
- August: .287/.361/.479 with 4 home runs, 12 walks and 21 strikeouts in 25 games.
- September: .266/.336/.416 with 4 home runs, 12 walks, 26 strikeouts in 27 games.
If you ignore April and July, he was pretty consistent.
Defensively? He made it through the season without an error. FanGraphs has him at a 5.4 UZR/150. Outs Above Average has him at +1.
He looked good in right field. He had a flair for the spectacular play. Diving catches, sliding catches, catches near the fence, and near the right field wall. There were many great catches.
He played 2 innings in center field. And he DHed 21 times.
FanGraphs has him at -1.7 runs compared to the average baserunner. His 20 stolen bases was a career-high, but there were more outs on the bases than one would like.
Springer’s games started by his spot in the batting order:
- 1st: 123 games.
- 2nd: 3 games.
- 4th: 14 games.
- 5th: 8 games.
His favourite team to face? He hit .393/.414/.786 with 3 home runs in 7 games against the Guardians.
Least favorite? He hit .040/.143/.160 in 7 games against the Astros.
The Jays were 85-63 in games he started. Springer’s longest hitting streak was 8 games. His longest hitless streak was 8 games at the end of July.
He was 2 for 9, both singles, in our two playoff games.
Springer has three seasons left on his six-year, $150 million contract. He has accumulated an 8.4 bWAR with the Jays in 365 games at the halfway point.
Before the season, we asked:
- “If the over/under on Springer’s games played is 138, I’d take the”. 39% of us were right by taking the over.
- “If the over/under on Springer’s innings played in center is 80, I’d take the”. 65% of us were right taking the under.
- “What would you think of making Springer the “Team Captain”?” 64% liked the idea, but it didn’t happen.
- “The best leadoff hitter in Jays history is.” 17% voted for Springer. 38% said Devon White (they were wrong, but then four people voted for Alfredo Griffin).
I think it is fair to say that Springer’s 2023 season was a disappointment. It started poorly. He was hitting under .200 on April 24th. He had a few good stretches but didn’t have that sustained run where he carried the team for a month.
With George turning 34 next season, we will get the answer to whether he is the type of player who will continue to be a star in his late 30s. We were told that Jose Bautista was the type who would be able to be a star in his later 30s, and that turned out to be wrong. George has had 34 steals in the last two seasons, but I wonder if that is a good use of his talents.
His career bWAR is 36.2. I wonder what the odds are that he gets to 45. He had a 4.0 WAR in 2022. He could easily have a bounceback season that gets him another 4+ season, but I’m not sure it is likely.
John moved him out of the leadoff spot in late July to ‘get his bat going.’ Whit Merrifield was hot at that time, and it wasn’t a bad idea to put him into the top spot and see if being in an RBI spot would get Springer going (spoiler, it didn’t), but George had a nice little run after being put back in the leadoff spot (for a short period). I do not like moving guys because of hot or cold stretches, but the Jays' offense needed something, and when you are a manager, sometimes there is an urge to ‘do something.’
He’s starting to appear on our batting leader lists:
- WAR Position Players: 41st, 8.4. A 2.1 2024 season would get him into the top 30.
- OPS: 20th.
- Home Runs: 34th.
- Stolen Bases: 33rd.
Give him three more seasons, and he’ll be in the top 10 in several categories.
I am a fan. I still think that making him team captain wouldn’t be a bad idea. He’s one of those guys who is easy to like. He has that go full-out all-the-time thing. Sometimes it would be smarter if he would pick his moments, but that’s the player he is.
Like many of our hitters, it would have been a better year for the Jays if he had the season we expected. A lot was made of his being our ‘Mr. October’, the guy who led the way at the end of the season. Looking at his career numbers, I don’t see him being particularly good in Sept. His best month is May, but calling someone Mr. May is considered an insult. He’s had some good playoff runs and some that weren’t so good. Being ‘clutch’ happens sometimes and doesn’t other times.
For his 2023 season I’d grade George Springer an
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