Blue Jays fans have veered between appreciation and frustration with $150M star George Springer while the leadoff man has struggled with injury but can Toronto rely on the 32-year-old in the postseason?
JULIA KREUZ: No one expected George Springer to play 162 games this season, but injury issues continue to plague him. And it begs the question, how much and in what form will the Blue Jays be able to count on their $150 million man come playoff time?
Springer's tendencies to get injured are really nothing new. He missed more than half of the 2021 regular season with several ailments. And the Blue Jays have been extremely cautious in how they use him and manage that workload in 2022.
An elbow injury did land him on the IL and has limited his appearances mostly to the DH position in the second half of this season. And a foul ball off his knee, again, sent him to a sort of day-to-day position in August.
That's not ideal. That's not where you want your center fielder and your star leadoff hitter to be. That has certainly led to some frustration. And it makes sense that fans would question Springer's ability to contribute in an everyday basis come October.
So what is Toronto missing in George Springer's absence? First of all, they're missing a solid center fielder, a guy that can make potentially game-changing defensive plays in the outfield. Though, the Blue Jays did address that by going out at the trade deadline and getting Whit Merrifield and later on, claiming Jackie Bradley Jr.
What this team is really, really missing when George Springer is not in the lineup is an elite leadoff hitter, a guy that can give you an instantaneous lead in the very first at-bat of the game. And if not that, a guy that has very high on-base percentage and can set up later batters, such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Alejandro Kirk, and Teoscar Hernández to name a few. That is a very lethal combination at the top of the Blue Jays lineup.
And though Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has done a good job filling in for Springer at the leadoff spot when necessary, it is pretty clear that the power and on-base ability are incomparable when it comes to a bona fide star, such as Springer.
All of that leads us to the question of, what will Springer's role be come playoff time for the Blue Jays? The ideal scenario is that his elbow will get healthy enough to at least see some time at center field in October. But most likely, his reps will come at DH in the postseason.
That takes away some flexibility for the Blue Jays, which is something that they really value at that DH spot, the ability to bring in guys that can potentially be very dangerous, such as Alejandro Kirk, Danny Jansen, even Gurriel Jr. or Merrifield, guys that don't necessarily have a position every day but could fill in that spot and give a little bit more flexibility in that lineup.
The Blue Jays will happily make the trade off. They will make the sacrifice to have Springer's bat in the lineup more often than not. But that is certainly something to keep in mind when it comes to strategy in October. What are your confidence levels with George Springer right now and also for the postseason?