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Cranking up the Hype Machine: George Springer

The Houston Astros picked up the phone late Tuesday evening and summoned juicy outfield prospect George Springer to the big club. He’s the first name prospect to join the fantasy conversation this season and what better way to celebrate that then cranking up the hype machine! Before we dive in, realize that Springer will be snapped up en-mass today and he’s already up to 44% ownership in Yahoo leagues as of this writing. If you want a crack a Springer, go get him now, sort out the details later.

So about that hype…

Springer burst onto the fantasy radar last summer as he put up a near 40/40 campaign across two minor league levels, leaving dynasty and keeper league owners itching for a late-season call up. He remained down on the farm, but after a strong spring and solid start to the Triple-A season, the Astros are ready to take the plunge. They surely don’t need to see more against inferior competition after watching the 24-year-old outfielder compile a .302/.397/.562 line over parts of four minor league seasons (including a handful of games at Triple-A this year).

The upside is obvious. He’s got power, he’s got speed and a can draw a walk. So what’s the worry? It’s the fact that he’s consistently stuck our in over 26% of his plate appearances throughout the minors. Last season, if we take a look at the top-30 batters in terms of wOBA (weighted on-base average, a very solid indicator of fantasy goodness), just three qualified hitters posted strikeout percentages over 25% –Chris Davis, Mike Napoli and Giancarlo Stanton. Obviously, a high strikeout rate is not a strict blocker to being a fantasy monster, but it certainly doesn’t help if he’s headed back to the dugout more than quarter of the time without even putting the ball in play.

Enough of the negativity, however, there is plenty to love about Springer. Expectations can be tempered a bit this season and we are likely to see that strikeout rate climb while he adjusts to major league pitching. Still, the power and speed will play immediately in every league — though you’ll want to discount him just a bit in points formats where strikeout totals can really drag down a player’s value. We can conservatively project a .250 average in his rookie campaign, but given starter’s playing time the rest of the way, we could easily see Springer approach 18-20 homers with 20+ steals. This is an impact bat available forĀ free in more than 50% of standard leagues. That will change today, go get him now.

Hype Machine Projection: 530 PA, .248 avg, 70 R, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 22 SB

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