Is the league catching up to George Springer already?


(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Astros’ George Springer made his major-league debut on April 16, after being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Springer hit a franchise rookie record 10 home runs in May, for which he was honored as the American League Rookie of the Month, and has 16 home runs on the year, including this two-run blast on June 30:

The young slugger is hitting .240 with 43 RBI through 67 games, but is the league catching up to him already?

In May he batted .294 and had a Weighted Runs Created Plus of 186.  League average wRC+ is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. In June that dropped to .227 and 128, respectively, and Springer is 1 for 9 in July with four strikeouts. And that is where he is having the most trouble, pitchers have found his weak spot: pitches low and away.

Here is a zone breakdown of the pitches that Springer has swung on and missed. The point of view is from the catcher, so Springer, a right handed hitter, would be lining up on the left side of the image.

George Springer pitches where he swung and missed (Source: Baseball Savant)
George Springer pitches where he swung and missed(Source: Baseball Savant)

Almost half those pitches down and away are sliders (31), against which Springer is batting .121 with a .224 slugging percentage and 27 strikeouts in 58 at bats.

And as the season wears on he is seeing more and more breaking balls and offspeed pitches.


This isn’t anything new: rookies tend to see less fastballs the more they stick around in the bigs, but if Springer doesn’t lay off those pitches low and away the Astros will see his performance fizzle down the stretch.

All stats in this post are through July 3.

 

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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