Springer learning consistency from Brantley

March 3rd, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As high-flying Astros center fielder George Springer searches for some consistency, he only must peer a few lockers down for an example of one of the game’s most consistent performers in new teammate Michael Brantley.

Springer, entering his fifth full season in the big leagues, already has an impressive list of accomplishments in his career, including two All-Star Game appearances, an American League Silver Slugger Award and the 2017 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. He can still be a streaky player, though, which may be the only thing keeping him from the AL MVP Award discussion.

“I understand there [are] going to be ups and downs in a season,” Springer said. “We play too many games for things to go right all the time, but I’ve learned how quickly you can recover from those downs and how long you can kind of ride out the good, so consistency of the game is more of a factor.”

Enter Brantley, whose calm demeanor, steady presence on and off the field, and stellar reputation make him the perfect case study for Springer. The Astros signed him to a two-year deal for his left-handed bat and stellar reputation.

“Having a guy like Michael Brantley, who’s arguably the most consistent guy in the game, is going to be huge for a guy like me, who can go up and down or try to ride out a wave,” Springer said. “I understand not every player can be like him.”

Last year, Springer hit .265 with 22 homers, scored 102 runs and drove in 71 runs. At times he was a dominant force as Houston’s anything-but-prototypical leadoff hitter. The inconsistency was still evident.

Springer had an .826 OPS in April and May last year, but hit .190 with a .658 OPS in June. He scuffled in July (.233 average/.709 OPS) before righting the ship down the stretch, hitting .315 with an .840 OPS in August and September despite battling a left thumb sprain and sore left quad.

“I had a stretch last year -- probably early June until about the All-Star break -- where I just felt there wasn’t anything I could do right,” he said. “As a player, you try to change things and try to make adjustments and get yourself in a bigger hole. Last year was definitely one of the toughest stretches I’ve been through, but it made me better in the end. I learned one thing and that’s to be who I am and to not change and just kind of get back to the basics.”

Brantley, a four-time All-Star who was signed away from the Indians in the offseason, called Springer a “phenomenal athlete” and “five-tool player,” but said every player is different when it comes to finding what drives consistency.

“Everybody’s swings are different and they have different physical attributes they can bring the game, but it’s finding out what works for you and just try to stay there for a long as you can,” he said.

Springer has so much athleticism and physical ability that it’s not so easy to smooth out the rough edges. He plays the game at one speed, which often leads to some incredible highs and lows. Still, there are subtle things across the board the Astros want him to do better, and having Brantley at his side could help him get there.

“George is always prepared and always ready to play, but Brantley’s 100 times out of 100 routine is going to rub off on George,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said.