George Springer Nearly Defied Physics With a Diving Catch Last Night
Houston Astros outfielder George Springer is mostly known for his bat.
The former first-round pick maintained a wRC+ of 127 over 345 plate appearances in 2014, his first season in the bigs, proving that he could be an above-average run producer at the highest level of baseball.
Last season, he showed it wasn't a fluke, posting a 129 wRC+ over 451 plate appearances.
So far this year, he's built on that with a 143 mark in 65 plate appearances.
His wOBA has climbed year-over-year from .352 to .360 to now .362.
The man can swing a bat, but that doesn't mean that he leaves home without his glove, which he showed last night by robbing the Texas Rangers' designated hitter Prince Fielder of extra bases.
He also earned a hat tip from pitcher Doug Fister for the effort.
And there was quite an effort made.
Wow.... George Springer's catch: first step in 0.37 seconds, 98% route efficiency, distance covered 80 feet, max speed 19.1 MPH
— Daren Willman (@darenw) April 21, 2016
Thank goodness for MLB's Statcast.
But Rangers fans know the threat of Springer's glove all too well. After all, this happened last April to Leonys Martin, as he was denied a walk-off, extra-inning grand slam.
And then this in early May.
And then this in the same series against Adrian Beltre.
He's terrorized other teams with elite route running, too. This was October of 2015.
Simply put, Springer is one of the most exciting young players in all of Major League Baseball at the plate and in the field.
Sure, he's no Kevin Kiermaier, whose Ultimate Zone Rating of 30.0 since 2015 dominates all of Major League outfielders (of 61 qualified outfielder's, only Jason Heyward's 25.1 is better than 16.2), but Springer's 3.5 ranks him 21st in that span. He's 19th if you adjust for a 150-game pace.
Springer grades out 25th in Range Runs based on his -- you guessed it -- range, which you wouldn't have guessed based on these plays.
However, he's made 9 snares since 2015 that should be caught between 1 and 10% of the time, according to Inside Edge's Fielding Data.
That 33.33% conversion rate is tops in the bigs since 2015 among those qualified outfielders, and only two other players -- Alex Gordon (27.3%) and Kiermaier (25%) have hauled in more than 17% of those unlikely plays.
Sounds about right.