ANAHEIM -- Outfielder George Springer became the first Astros player since Carlos Lee in 2007 to appear in 162 games in a season when he led off Sunday's 8-1 loss to the Angels with an infield single.Springer, who was replaced by a pinch-runner, paced the Majors with 744 plate appearances.
ANAHEIM -- Outfielder George Springer became the first Astros player since Carlos Lee in 2007 to appear in 162 games in a season when he led off Sunday's 8-1 loss to the Angels with an infield single.
Springer, who was replaced by a pinch-runner, paced the Majors with 744 plate appearances. That mark matched Craig Biggio (749 in 1999; 744 in 1997) for the second most in Astros history.
Playing in every game was significant for Springer after he was limited to 180 combined contests in his first two seasons in the big leagues because of injuries. He missed two months in 2014 with a left quad strain and two months last year after breaking his right wrist.
Springer has played in a Major League-leading 187 consecutive games. He's the seventh Astros player to appear in 162 games. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar and O's second baseman Jonathan Schoop are the only other big leaguers to accomplish the feat in 2016.
"It's a big deal for him given his track record of being a little unlucky with injuries," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's not injury prone, as much as he's just had a few things happen to him that have knocked him out of a few games. Being able to leadoff, high walk total, homer total, he's very productive."
Springer, of course, set career highs across the board offensively, batting .261 with 29 homers, 82 RBIs, 88 walks, 116 runs and a .358 on-base percentage.
"He is caught in between being a top-of-the-order, on-base-type guy but also a run producer," Hinch said. "I've seen him play exceptional defense this year and was able to contribute and answer the bell whenever we asked him to. He's still got more room to grow and areas to improve in baserunning and some of his at-bats when he gets frustrated. At 27, entering the prime of his career, he's impactful and dynamic as they come."
The Astros flourished after they moved Springer to the leadoff spot on May 24 to replace José Altuve, whose ability to drive in runs forced him into the heart of the lineup. Springer isn't the ideal leadoff hitter, but he draws a lot of walks and has speed, though he's not a good basestealer.
"I think he's a productive guy wherever I put him," Hinch said. "It's all a matter of how we shape our roster. In a perfect world, he may not be a leadoff hitter because of the power -- because of the double power, the homer power, his speed in the middle of the order.
"But it's hard not to look at his ability to get on base and work at-bats and have him in front of Altuve, [Carlos] Correa, [Alex] Bregman and our productive hitters. We'll see how the roster shakes out, but as the roster stands today, I like him at the top."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.