TORONTO -- Astros outfielder George Springer is peaking just in time for his Midsummer Classic debut. Set to be part of the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Miami on Tuesday, Springer continues to set the table for the most dangerous lineup in baseball.
Springer was a one-man show in Friday's 12-2 win over the Blue Jays, going a perfect 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. His 26th and 27th homers of the year already put him just two shy of his career high, and his .992 OPS is well above his career totals.
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"He's a difference-maker," manager A.J Hinch said after the big win. "Getting him the most at-bats is pretty awesome. He's using the middle of the field and the opposite field. No park can hold him right now."
Both of Springer's home runs were driven to the opposite field, with exit velocities of 106 and 104.7 mph, according to Statcast™.
The Astros' stacked batting order can smother a pitcher early, which is exactly what happened on Friday when they jumped ahead, 8-0, after two innings. Not only does Springer give Houston the on-base tool that any manager loves atop a lineup, but he also leads the team in home runs and slugging percentage.
This dual identity makes Springer his own genre of player in the leadoff spot. There will be times where the 27-year-old can take over a game, like he did on Friday, but he's also capable of stepping back and playing setup man to the laundry list of sluggers that follow.
"I understand who's up behind me," Springer said. "If I can get to first for guys like [Jose] Altuve, [Carlos] Correa, [Carlos] Beltran, I understand that there's a good chance I'm going to score."
The first two months of Springer's season hovered right around his career norms. Springer posted an .842 OPS through April and May, but he's found another gear since June 1.
Springer has an OPS of 1.138 in his past 31 games, a number that ballooned further with his big night at the dish Friday. He credits this to slowing the game down and adapting his approach as the game develops, which showed as he homered off two very different pitchers in Aaron Sanchez and Mike Bolsinger.
"He can wow you even when you're around him every day," Hinch said. "What a great tone-setter."