Don’t Panic! It’s Still Springer!

Josh Thusat breaks down last night's hitting performances.

We are two months into spring and haven’t yet reached the official beginning of summer, let alone the dog days. Still, it seems as good a time as any to worry. I worry about my fantasy league standings, I worry about deadened baseballs, and I worry about my personal favorite team.

One team that I’ve heard many people worry about, particularly in the hitting department, is the Toronto Blue Jays. They are 24th in runs scored. By the end of the 2021 campaign, they were 3rd. However, of all the big names in that lineup, their leadoff man, George Springer, continues to hit the ball as well as he’s always done, from his days in Houston to his current life in Canada. Among his Toronto peers, he is tied for the most home runs (9), he leads the team in RBI (26) and SLG (.530), and he is 2nd in AVG (.278) behind Santiago Espinal.

Last night, Springer led off the game with a solo shot against Shohei Ohtani. He would end the evening going 2-4 with a HR, 2 R, and an RBI.

I’ve never had George Springer on my fantasy baseball team, which is a real shame. It’s not that I’ve avoided him; it just hasn’t happened. And as I sit here and worry about my hitters, I can’t help but notice that one of the more consistent players in the game is continuing his reliability amidst one of the highly touted lineups in the league, and is in fact surpassing them by the end of May. It reminds me that the best baseball players do great things over and over again for six months, and then they come out and do it again the following year. Just compare his 2021 line to his current clip.

AVG OBP SLG wOBA
2021 .264 .352 .555 .381
2022 (May 27) .272 .349 .510 .372

It might seem crazy to think that Springer is ever lost in the shuffle, and if you watch any Toronto games, he never is. Springer is a leader and a force. He’s all smiles, supporting his teammates’ successes before stepping into the box himself. And when you watch him, you know the Blue Jays are going to get hot again soon. It may still be spring, and we may be worried about how well our teams will do this year, but I don’t think we need to worry about Springer.

Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday.

Kyle Farmer (CIN): 4-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.

Cincinnati beat the Chicago Cubs yesterday by a score of 20-5. That’s not a typo. I wrote 20 runs. That’s two touchdowns, two extra points, and two field goals. But this is baseball. Farmer was a big part of that, slugging two homers. He had a cortisone shot a few days ago, but he seems to be in good form. Just looking at his xAVG/xSLG/xwOBA in 141 PA, you’ll find .269/.375/.309. It doesn’t look that great, but considering each one is about forty points higher than his surface stats, it might be worth watching.

Freddie Freeman (LAD): 4-5, 2 2B, HR, 3 R, 5 RBI.

Another rout took place last night in Arizona, where the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks 14-1. We’re at two touchdowns in that game, so they didn’t manage to beat the Reds. Freeman clubbed a 3-run homer, but he also slapped two doubles to go along with it, and he’s now hitting .312 on the season. At nearly 200 plate appearances, he’s everything you want on your fantasy baseball team. More homers will come, as he sits at four. He hit 31 last year. And he’s still stealing bags because he’s got 3 on the season. He stole 8 last year.

Trevor Story (BOS): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB, SB.

Same ol’ Story, right? He’s now homered nine times (nine!) in the last 14 games. Continuing the theme of lopsided games, Story led the Red Sox to a 16-7 defeat of the White Sox yesterday, taking Dallas Keuchel deep in the second inning. He’s now sitting at a .232 AVG, but in the last two weeks, he’s batting .286.

Andrew Vaughn (CWS): 2-5, 2B, HR, R, 5 RBI.

Michael Wacha didn’t have many answers for Vaughn yesterday. Andrew hit a double first –just to get in a groove, maybe — before going deep in the fifth inning. Vaughn has batted throughout the White Sox lineup this season, but he’s been hitting second in the last two games, which might make sense considering he’s quietly batting .292/.349/.500. All of his expected stats seem to support this line as well.

Chris Taylor (LAD): 3-6, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.

Taylor has been showing off in his last 49 at-bats, hitting four home runs with 12 Runs, 9 RBI, and a .265 AVG. And what’s more, he’s getting better, surging to a .308 AVG in his last 26 at-bats. One major part of his value in fantasy baseball is the multi-position eligibility, where he can be slotted at 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in Yahoo leagues. He hit his two-run homer last night off Caleb Smith’s curveball. It hung there like a punching bag, and Chris Taylor…he, um, punched it. With his bat.

Ian Happ (CHC): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, BB.

Did you know that Ian Happ does car commercials? I just saw one the other day. And it makes sense to me because he’s one of the best hitters on that team. Did you know his line is .275/.386/.442. He hit his fifth homer of the season yesterday against Hunter Greene in the fifth inning. At that time, it was a 10-5 game, and Happ might have been trying to sell his team on a comeback instead of a car commercial, but they would go on to a 20-5 loss.

Nathaniel Lowe (TEX): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB.

Lowe hit his third home run off Sam Moll yesterday in the top of the ninth inning. It was his second home run in the last week. His AVG has dipped considerably since the start of the season, and he is known for hitting the ball on the ground too often. But it is good to see him driving the ball here, leading his team to victory, and avoiding a pun from a writer like me who really wants to say he needs to stop hitting the ball so LOWE. There, I said it. He’s slashing .246/.305/.338.

J.T. Realmuto (PHI): 1-3, HR, 2 R, RBI.

Keep it real, Realmuto. Hitting bombs again. Look at you. I’ve been panicking about J.T. on some of my baseball teams, but it must be said that he has a long enough history to garner our trust. He hit his third home run last night, and he still ranks second among catchers in Runs (23), which is because he still gets a lot of playing time in a good lineup.

Danny Jansen (TOR): 1-4, HR, R, RBI.

Danny Jansen seems like a player I’ve been writing a lot about since February. I listed him somewhere as a sleeper catcher, a highly touted one earlier in his career who seemed to disappear from fantasy radars. In his brief 36 plate appearances, the walks are down (it’s true), but so are the strikeouts. He has a wildly unsustainable .576 ISO, which is just fun to look at. But there were glimmers of serious production in his last 100 at-bats in 2021, when he hit .303/.350/.695. He clobbered Jaime Barria’s fastball in the ninth inning of a 6-2 win for Toronto last night.

Kiké Hernández (BOS): 1-6, HR, R, RBI.

Hernandez is perched right on the Mendoza Line this year, batting an even .200 in his first 170 at-bats with 24 Runs and 20 RBI. Even with that, Alex Cora keeps him in the leadoff spot for the Red Sox. And that faith may begin to pay off. In the last two weeks, he’s batting .276, and in his last 29 at-bats, he’s got 2 long balls to go with a .310 AVG. Hernandez was on a lot of sleeper lists this year, and if some of the recent gains stick, he may be worth revisiting, particularly if you need help at 2B.

Luis Urías (MIL): 1-5, HR, R, RBI.

Urias was batting second last night, and he didn’t waste any time. He hit his fourth home run off Adam Wainwright. It was his only hit of the night. Remember that he started his season on May 3rd and only has 75 at-bats so far on the season. But he’s been good, slashing .267/.371/.440. So far this season, he’s also hitting the ball on the ground about 5% less than last year, showcasing a better line-drive approach. If it keeps up, we may see him break out even more this season as he turns 25 on June 3rd and has 1,081 plate appearances in the big leagues now.

Dee Strange-Gordon (WSH): 2-4, 3B, R, SB.

I must admit that I wasn’t aware that Dee Strange-Gordon was up with the Nationals, but he’s had 49 at-bats with the major-league club so far this season, going .283 with 6 Runs and a stolen base. He’s batting .500 over the last six days, but tonight marks his first extra-base hit.

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

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