George Springer is no longer an Astro.
In a week-plus that has found Houston sports fans reeling from a trade of James Harden and warnings that Texans QB Deshaun Watson may be close to signaling he wants out of Houston as well, one of its favorite sons is reportedly signing with the Toronto Blue Jays for six years and $150 million.
Springer is a group of home-grown players that have led the Astros from one of the historically worst teams in baseball to 2017 World Series champions and one game shy of a second title two years later. He, along with Jose Altuve, have been not only the faces of the franchise, but the heart and soul of the team since they debuted.
The financial reality is that the Astros were strapped with the kinds of contracts that just made signing Springer an impossibility. But as much as it hurt from a sentimental standpoint, Springer's play on the field will likely put an even bigger dent in his now-former team. There will be plenty of time to dissect where the Astros go from here in the outfield, but for now, let's look back at some of our favorite things about the Astro legend.
Without digging too deeply into the advanced analytics, let's just say Springer is more than an above average center fielder. He could play every position in the outfield (and often did) and his range, leaping ability and arm strength put him in elite company in baseball. At their peak, few teams dared run on the Astros outfield and batters understood if it was even barely within reach of Springer, he was likely to catch it. There will be a giant gaping hole in the Minute Maid outfield this year that will be difficult to fill.
Forget all the huge homers he hit in his career as an Astro, the very term "Springer Dinger" is simply delightful. A buddy of ours would regularly text us after Springer home runs with the phrase, albeit jokingly because we thought it sounded goofy. But, in truth, it was pure bliss to see that text roll in. As a power hitter, Springer has been great, but it is the clutch nature of his hitting that makes him such a compelling player. We will sorely miss all the Springer Dingers he will launch in Canada.
And speaking of clutch play, Springer may very well be one of the greatest MLB playoff hitters of all time. He is certainly on the list of most home runs in the playoffs for a career. He had three in a game and was World Series MVP largely on the strength of his long balls. But, his leadership and tenacity, plus his aforementioned defensive skills and speed on the base paths make his unquestionably spectacular, particularly during the postseason.
Perhaps what we will miss most of all was the youthful enthusiasm with which he plays the game. Springer always looks like he is genuinely having the time of his life. From the postgame outfield celebrations to the dugout dancing to the familiar thumbs up he gives his team every time he reaches base, Springer is pure joy on a baseball diamond. The Astros won't be the same without him.