George Springer's ventured into the land of ridiculousness. He's no longer just mashing. He's moved on to hitting home runs that defy belief.
Like a fly ball shot in Kansas City Wednesday that hangs in the air longer than a young Michael Jordan before leaving the yard. That one leaves the CSN Houston announcing team talking like they'd just seen David Blaine pull off some impossible illusion.
In a way, they had. Only, George Springer's myth-sized feats are real. Springer has zoomed from being doubted (albeit, it ridiculously) to emerging as a a bonafide budding superstar in no time flat. When he last left Minute Maid Park on May 18, Springer stood out as an unproven curiosity. He returns Thursday night for something of a high-profile series with the Baltimore Orioles that includes the showcase Civil Rights Game as a full-fledged force, in many ways the talk of Major League Baseball.
Springer Dinger's entered the Houston lexicon. This is what happens when you smack six home runs in six games, when you hit .412 over the last nine games you've played.
He doesn't play in LA. And he's not a Magic Johnson BFF. But George Springer is already proving he's a better player than Yasiel Puig. Springer doesn't have anything close to Puig hype yet. But he should.
Springer already has more home runs (nine) than Puig did at All-Star selection time last season. He doesn't posses the gaudy batting average Puig did, but his highlight moments are quickly adding up. George Springer hasn't just made the Astros watchable (and moderately winning, with the team 7-2 in his last nine games played). He's turned Houston into a compelling Major League stop.
He doesn't play in LA. And he's not a Magic Johnson BFF. But Springer is already proving he's a better player than Puig.
That's a feat worthy of a healthy-sized myth. And it's just one of the reasons that Springer needs to be given what Puig was denied: An All-Star berth just months after his first Major League call up.
Springer's playing like an All-Star, arriving in a burst after it seems like everyone waited forever (but really waited no time at all in baseball time). He has more home runs than Oakland As slugger Yoenis Cespedes and Mr. Triple Crown Miguel Cabrera right now (not that this last one is likely to last). He has one less dinger than Mike Trout, the young outfielder all the analytics gurus consider the best player in baseball.
Springer is changing games, one swing at a time, for a franchise that hasn't had a real legitimate game changer in forever. If that's not an All Star, nothing is.
He still needs to become the stolen base threat in the Majors that he was in the minors. He still needs plenty more defensive gems in the outfield. But there's little real doubt those will come.
Yasiel Puig creates much more drama than George Springer. He often seems to live for drama, making him the closest thing to a Johnny Manziel figure in baseball. Some of those theatrics help the Dodgers. But plenty more hurt Don Mattingly's team.
Puig runs LA out of some games. Springer just shows up — and almost quietly (his home runs themselves are the only loud thing about the Astros' No. 4 — wins them.
Miracle Mash Springer
Springer's spree is even more impressive when you consider he hurt his right leg in the middle of it. When Springer hobbled back to the dugout and needed to be helped down the steps by teammates in Anaheim, it didn't look good. I wrote about the complete disaster it would be for the Astros if Springer had to miss significant time (and nothing could be worse for the franchise this season). The Astros TV crew similarly talked in terms of calamity.
If you actually watched Springer completely twisting his leg up and limping off in extreme pain, the worst seemed very much in play.
Just a week after hobbling off, George Springer is the buzz of baseball. Talk about building the myth.
And . . . Springer misses all of two games. And hits two home runs in his first game back. Just a week after hobbling off, George Springer is the buzz of Major League Baseball. Talk about building the myth. Just call him the Miracle Man.
Now, Springer returns to Minute Maid as the emerging superstar Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow promised everyone he would be. Astros fans need to come out for this series with the Orioles in some decent numbers, to show this 24-year-old that the future's been recognized. The non-CSN blackout for the Friday night Civil Rights Game has been lifted too, meaning that those who have MLB Network can watch Springer on TV even if they don't have CSN.
Every look counts. This is a full-fledged emerging superstar in the building, making Houston baseball relevant again. This is the real call-up All-Star, someone whose bat is starting to demand he be in Minneapolis for the big star show.
George Springer's bashed his way into the land of ridiculousness. And everyone can come along for the ride.