George Springer is at it again, torching postseason baseballs from atop the Houston lineup.
Well, at it, presumably, in a good way. Without any cheating via illegal transmission of signs. Springer could hit 10 home runs this postseason and still be met with doubt because a chunk of his burgeoning postseason numbers was earned in the tainted year of 2017 when Springer’s 1.471 OPS led to him being named World Series MVP. He hit a Reggie Jackson-rivaling five home runs in the series.
So, strip all that away. Be harsh and without logic, because there are still challenges hitting home runs even when cheating, and even if they didn’t cheat, Springer presumably hits two home runs that postseason instead of six. But, for this exercise give him zero after a wipeout of 2017. That would mean he has 11 home runs in 36 postseason games to go with a 2.111 .OPS in the playoffs this year.
“You’ve come to expect it,” said Dusty Baker of Springer in the postseason. “This guy is a tremendous ball player, tremendous athlete and his concentration level, you know, rises during these times. He’s not missing pitches he should hit. And he’s hitting them out. Boy, it’s fun to watch.”
Springer will be a free agent at the end of the month. He is the best outfield option on the market. The Nationals need outfield help. A union would be costly and effective. Their gap -- mostly in power -- plus the position both on the field and in the batting order makes Springer an alluring option. Fans may feel like they swallowed a bag of glass when rooting for a former Houston player. However, good play and personality tend to erode such vitriol.
How would he fit in Washington? Well, seamlessly.
Springer has played mostly in right field. He also spent a lot of time in center field. He could be put in left field -- as a superior athlete -- without issue. He’s hit leadoff almost his entire career. Both fit right in for the Nationals.
If Springer was the leadoff hitter, Trea Turner could hit second and Juan Soto third. This would be a grand improvement. However, it also leaves a hole behind Soto. Teams have veered away from Soto -- predictably -- to tangle with whomever is hitting behind him. If that is a mid-level bat, such as Starlin Castro, Soto is going to be walked with increasing frequency. So, it makes more sense to leadoff Springer and bat Soto second, Turner third, then Castro (or Howie Kendrick if he is back) fourth.
Springer is 31 years old. His next contract will probably fall in the five-year, $125 million range. If the Nationals were to sign an outfielder for that time period, he would be aligned with Soto and Robles until the pair can become free agents in 2025. Which means the timeline also lines up.
For now, he is again making a push with the despised Astros.
“One, I’m just trying to help the team win,” Springer told reporters after Game 2 of the ALDS. “Two, it’s the playoffs. This is supposed to be fun. You’ve got to enjoy it. As I’ve said before and I believe, you don’t know if you’re ever going to get back here, so the times you are here you might as well try to have fun.”