And it wasn’t even the most impressive thing he did.
Starting just his fourth Major League game in center field, Springer made a highlight-reel catch, streaking toward the left-center field gap in the third inning and crashing into the padding to rob the Rangers’ Alex Rios of extra bases.
It was a key play—the Astros were up by just one run at the time, with nobody out—but more than anything it showcased the fearlessness and extreme athleticism that make Springer one of the most exciting young players in baseball.
And let’s not forget about that home run. With yet another awe-inspiring bomb—hit one day after he bashed a 430-foot moon shot—Springer kept himself among the American League home-run leaders.
And his homers are the opposite of cheap—this is a power hitter who looks the part.
Springer has drawn comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton, the Miami Marlins slugger who sets the bar for muscle-flexing pop.
In fact, Springer was linked to Stanton in a supposedly discussed blockbuster, revealed as part of the Astros’ in-house trade database leak at Anobin.com (via CBSSports.com).
Right now, Houston fans might be glad the trade didn’t happen. That’s how much of a revelation Springer has been.
Yes, his .235 batting average doesn’t turn heads, and his 109 strikeouts in 325 plate appearances could use improving.
But he’s also shown flashes of a legitimate five-tool player, the type of talent a franchise could, and should, build around.
Add MLB hits leader Jose Altuve, and it’s clear why the Astros are bullish about the future.
Wednesday’s win over the injury-depleted Rangers and their ace Yu Darvish moved the ‘Stros into a tie for last place in the American League West. Might not seem like much, but as Houston jockeys for respect, it pays to beat their Lone Star State rivals.
Springer actually began the season with the Astros’ AAA affiliate. After hitting .353 with a 1.106 OPS in 13 games he got the call up. He struggled initially, whiffing 29 times before hitting his first home run, but with the way he’s produced since, it’s a safe bet he won’t be going back down anytime soon.
In May, Springer made a splash by hitting seven home runs in a seven-game span.
The final long ball in that historic streak, on May 29, was ripped straight from a Hollywood script: A wheelchair-bound child asked Springer to hit a home run (to left field, no less) and he obliged.
Springer’s reaction, per CSN Houston’s Howard Chen:
I actually had forgotten, at that point, that he had said, ‘Hit it to left.’ I do know he said, ‘Hit a home run today’ and I kind of thought about it after I hit it like, ‘Huh! He called it!’ So I’ll give him all the credit for that one.
“He’s an exciting player,” Astros manager Bo Porter said of his burgeoning masher at the time, per the Associated Press (via USA Today). “At any moment, he can change the game with one swing. It doesn’t matter if he’s 0 for 3 or 3 for 3, he has the ability to impact the game every time he steps into the batter’s box.”
No question that impact will continue to be felt throughout Springer’s rookie campaign.
Even with the injury to the New York Yankees‘ Masahiro Tanaka, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox has the inside track on Rookie of the Year honors. Houston, though, is keeping an eye on the future. Forget individual accolades, or even being the best team in Texas.
The Astros want to become a factor in the AL West, and ultimately all of baseball.
If and when they do, there’s an excellent chance Springer will be there—bashing baseballs, streaking for improbable catches and generally doing impressive things.
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