George Springer’s departure didn’t spoil the Astros’ goals

Houston. During his first six seasons in Houston, not counting the shortened 2020 season, the outfielder of Puerto Rican descent George springer He averaged 35 home runs and 93 RBIs every 162 games, so his departure from the team as a free agent and eventual signing with the Toronto Blue Jays raised questions whether the Astros would go that far without him in 2021 or longer term.

Time and the Astros’ talent pool spoke for themselves, and not counting Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Texan team was one win away from overtaking their third. World Series since 2017.

In that edition of the Fall Classic four years ago, Springer was precisely one of the heroes. He won the MVP award after hitting .379 with five homers and seven RBIs in seven games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even with Springer in uniform, the Astros advanced to the postseason in five of six seasons including 2020.

How then was it possible that they could repeat their success by losing such an important bat and also a valuable glove in center field?

I think the revival of Kyle Tucker has helped us a lot. The truth is that the form he has played all year has been spectacular and he has been one of the most valuable players on this team.Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa answered when asked what factor or player, in his understanding, was key to overcoming Springer’s loss this year.

Indeed, Tucker debuted three years ago in the majors with the Astros and had only played 28 and 22 games in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In the shortened 60-game season, he played 58. In those three seasons, he hit a combined just .244 with 13 homers and 57 RBIs.

But in 2021 it was the revelation. He hit .294, in addition to hitting 30 home runs and driving in 92 runs. They were similar numbers to Springer’s in his last full year at Houston in 2019.

For the Astros hitting coach, Alex Cintrón from Puerto Rico, apart from Tucker, there was another protagonist who made a big contribution to Springer’s loss. And that was Michael Brantley, who had already arrived in 2019.

“The main factor was signing (in 2019) Michael Brantley. And Kyle Tucker came out to answer for that Springer bat, which hit 30 home runs on the season. And these young kids are ‘born’ like Myles Straw, who we changed in Cleveland (in July), Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick, players from the farm, young people who have produced enough for what they have been asked to do.. When you have seven hitters of our caliber, whatever they contribute is welcome, ”Cintron explained.

Brantley has been a consistent .300 hitter since arriving in 2019, a year he also hit 22 home runs with 90 RBIs. This season he was down in his power numbers, with eight homers and 47 RBIs, though he hit .311 again. In addition, with the glove in the left field it has been a success. He only made one mistake this year for a .992 fielding percentage.

“We lost Springer last year, but we are here (playoffs) again. A star came out in Kyle Tucker, who kind of is replacing Springer. Although Springer no one can replace him, “acknowledged Cintron, recalling that he hit 19 home runs in his five postseason appearances with the Astros.

“But (Tucker) did a tremendous job in the regular season and he’s still doing it in the playoffs,” he added of the 6’4 “young left-handed hitter who works mostly as a right fielder.

In center the Astros have alternated with several, including Jake Meyers, although now he is hurt and has not played in the Championship Series, McCormick and José Siri, after the exit via trade of Myles Straw in July.

Regarding the leadership that Springer had in the dressing room, Astros bench coach José Espada thinks that another Puerto Rican took that role very well.

Carlos (Correa) has always had that leadership quality, but as soon as Springer left, he took the reins. He does not stop motivating the boys and always has words of motivation, but he also teaches them. It’s like having another coach on the field. We’re going to see if we can have him for many more years, ”Espada said, acknowledging that Correa could end up with another team when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season with the World Series.

When it comes to covering Springer’s batting numbers, Espada also named designated hitter Yordan Alvarez as another key player. The Cuban alternated during the regular season in left field, but most of the time he was designated and contributed big with a .277 average, in addition to 33 home runs and 104 RBIs. In the Championship Series, he is hitting .421 with one homer and five RBIs and, overall in the 2021 playoffs, he is hitting .367 with two homers and eight RBIs.

Alvarez was Wednesday’s offensive hero when the Astros took command 3-2 in the series against Boston, hitting 5-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs.

“Having Álvarez all season was very important. Last year he was not in the Championship Series and having him in this ‘lineup’ has been very important ”, concluded Espada.

Springer, meanwhile, was unable to start the season after signing with the Blue Jays for $ 150 million and six years. Later in the regular phase he hurt himself again. He participated in just 78 games and finished with a .264 batting, 22 homers and 50 RBIs. Toronto was one game away from tying in the AL wild card, so it did not qualify for the playoffs.


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George Springer’s departure didn’t spoil the Astros’ goals