No. 1: George Springer
When I made my selections for the American League All-Star rosters last month I had Springer as my top outfield reserve. Flash forward a few weeks and not much has changed.
Ok fine, so I had Kinsler on my list of reserves as well. Really, this Final Vote decision came down to a toss up between the two. So why Springer over Kinsler?
Springer’s .266 batting average is far below Kinsler’s, the result of 87 strikeouts that put him just outside the top 10 in the league. However, Springer also walks a lot more, with 47 free passes this season to rank 6th in the league. Therefore his .363 OBP (a superior stat than batting average) is higher than Kinsler’s.
With 19 homers, Springer’s power production is only marginally better, while Kinsler actually has a slight edge in extra-base hits. Kinsler has also been better on the base paths, stealing 8 bases on 11 attempts, while Springer is only 6-for-12 in steal attempts.
Defensively is where Springer more than makes up the difference. His 10 defensive runs saved are fifth most among AL outfielders and he’s third in the league with 8 outfield assists.
While Springer and Kinsler are fairly evenly matched at the plate, Springer’s advantage in the field is the primary reason why his 3.6 WAR beats Kinsler. Springer is 7th in the league in WAR, just behind Mookie Betts and ahead of Bradley. A case can be made that Springer deserves to start over JBJ and if the Astros hadn’t gotten off to a slow start then he may have gotten more support from Houston’s fan base. It also helped Bradley’s case that the bulk of the voting process came on the heels of his 29-game hit streak.
The surging Astros are now second in the AL West and only a game behind the Red Sox for the second wild card. It leaves you to wonder if the fan voting for the starters began today if Springer would get enough votes to make a run at a starting spot.
Probably not, but Springer still deserves to have his name selected on Final Vote ballots.