Fantasy411 podcast: Projecting Springer in '18

Fantasy411 podcast: Projecting Springer in '18

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.

Matthew Leach: We will start with World Series MVP George Springer, and I really like Springer as a player. I've got a hunch he may get a little bit overrated coming into next year for a few reasons. One, just the October hype. Two, I get the feeling that there's maybe a perception he's a little younger than he is.

He's going into his age-28 season. You know, because he hasn't played a lot, he's not a guy we necessarily think of as going into his late 20s. So I probably don't have him with a first-round grade. I've got him pretty high. Where do you have Springer right now, going into a 2018 draft?

Fred Zinkie: I have him probably with a third-round grade with, maybe depending on league size, late second-round consideration. And I'm with you maybe wanting today, the day after the World Series as we record this, to kind of pump the brakes on him for fantasy a little bit after that great World Series run.

When I break down his numbers, he hit .283 last season, which is a lot better than he had been previously doing, and I think that is sustainable. But the one thing about Springer that's impressive, forget the World Series, he did cut his strikeout rate a lot this season, and that is a really impressive sustainable improvement that he's made. So I think he could hit .280 next year, or .285 even.

I think the 34 homers is sustainable. Where he falls way out of the first and out of the early second for me, he stole five bases this year in 12 attempts, so we're probably thinking five or so again next year. It's hard for leadoff hitters, even ones in the American League, to get more than 80 RBIs. And he got 85 this year, that's with Houston leading the Majors in runs scored.

So I think we need to project that in the 75-80 range, probably, next year. So you've got three categories right there where he's not special. I think that makes him probably a third rounder.

Leach: Yeah, I mean, the one thing is if you wanted to look at the sheer projection for 40 home runs next year, I wouldn't say that's ridiculous, and the thing about that is, and the one thing you know that we can't know now that maybe we know if we start talking in February or March is, it wouldn't shock me if the Astros decide to go a different approach as far as where they bat him.

He's got on-base skills, he certainly can handle himself in the leadoff spot. You know, if they decided if they were to find a leadoff hitter, if they were to approach that a different way and you told me he was hitting second or third or fourth in that lineup, then those RBI opportunities almost certainly go up, and then maybe you're looking at a different picture. If you believe the power, if you believe 34 home runs in 140 games, which again, you paced that out, you want to say that's 40, I probably might think that's on the high end, but it's not ridiculous. And then you tell me he's batting second, third or fourth in that lineup, maybe he gets a bump.

But again, I think, as you know, the batting average holds him down, the steals hold him down. He's a really good player, I'm just not sure that he's not going to get a little extra boost that I'm not willing to give him next year.

Zinkie: Yeah, for sure. You're right, if he was batting second or third or fourth, that would mean hitting right with [Jose] Altuve or [Carlos] Correa, then I think you can say 100 RBIs, then you could put him for sure in the second round. If he moved down to third or fourth, I would be a little concerned that he would stop stealing any bases, which would offset maybe the extra 15 or so RBIs.

But I think overall, I think what's happened is the improvement with the strikeout rate, and I'll give a little credit to the postseason. It's maybe just given me a little more confidence that this improvement this season wasn't a fluke, that he can really be around a .900 OPS player again next year.