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We continue our long-running series of articles debating fantasy rankings with a player that is sure to be one of the first few outfielders off the board in all formats. Or is he?

RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other.

Today, the topic is the young Houston Astros stud George Springer. Bill is bullish on his sky-high potential while Pierre's enthusiasm is a bit lower. Let's get ready to rumble!

Editor's Note: Stay on top of our MLB off-season news and fantasy analysis all year round. Read our daily fantasy columns about MLB prospects, dynasty outlooks, player outlooks and much more. It's always fantasy baseball season here. Let's Go!


2018 Draft Rankings Debate - George Springer

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill Composite
28 3 George Springer OF 28 26 34 29 22 21 26.667

Bill Dubiel's Ranking: #21 overall

I don't think I've lost the stars in my eyes from Springer's all-time amazing World Series. I'm going with it though, and there are plenty of reasons to stay optimistic. Springer took some monster steps forward last year on his way to winning the World Series MVP award, and I believe in those steps being relatively sustainable.

We'll start with Springer's approach at the plate. He actually posted the lowest walk-rate of his career last year (10.2%) but traded that for huge gains in contact and power. Springer posted the highest hard-hit percentage of his career (36.7%) and saw huge boosts in his power numbers. He raised his ISO over 40 points (.239), his slugging over 60 points (.522), set career highs in batting average (.283), RBI (85) and HR (34)... and did all of this while dropping his K-rate from 23.9% to 17.6%.

Of all of those stats, I think the K-rate is the least sustainable item in the list, but really there is no reason (barring injury) that Springer can't post a .275 batting average with 32 homers and 85 RBI. Adding onto that, Springer will still lead off for the Astros in 2018, meaning he'll be hitting in front of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yulieski Gurriel. There is no way that Springer scores fewer than 110 runs if he plays at least 140 games.

I'm not certain we've even seen the best that Springer is capable of, and that's the main reason for my ultra-optimistic ranking. Springer's floor is so absurdly high, but he's capable of so much more.


Pierre Camus' Ranking: #34 overall

Springer's outstanding postseason might be the worst thing to happen to his fantasy value. Like a few of his teammates, Springer will be slightly overvalued in the eyes of guys like Bill who are seeing things through Astroturf-colored glasses. You can love the player, but fantasy drafts are all about value, not emotional attachment.

It's true that everything has been trending the right way for Springer over his MLB career. You've already heard how his K% has dipped every year while his contact rate keeps climbing. Expecting Springer to maintain his 78.7% Contact% isn't unreasonable, but it might be ambitious to project anything over 80% or to think that he could possibly get even better. I could just scream regression all day long, but that's a cop-out. We don't know for sure if Springer has reached his ceiling, but that's not the question here. The question is whether he is a surefire second-round pick relative to his ADP mates.

If you were in a points league last year, you may already be aware that ranking Springer anywhere higher than 30 is overly optimistic. In 2017, he finished as the 18th-leading scorer among hitters in Fleaflicker leagues and that rank drops to 23rd in CBS scoring systems. If you throw pitchers into the mix, that would make him 34th (Fleaflicker) and 36th (CBS). My ranking looks fairly appropriate here.

In roto leagues, Springer will clearly help you win in runs (112 - tied for sixth) and homers (34 - good for 20th), but he was only 43rd in RBI with 85 and his speed has quickly disappeared, with just five successful steals on 12 attempts. The fact that he is 35 out of 58 on career SB attempts all but assures he'll be staying put on the basepaths and negating any value there. His batting average is the biggest question mark relative to his career numbers, but even if he does manage to keep improving it won't be enough to make him an "elite" player in that category. After parsing all the figures, if you consider Springer an second-round talent because he's great in two categories, you've surely got an Astros championship banner hanging in your room, or at least a bumper sticker.

As sabermetrician and battle ax master Alex Chamberlain recently said in Springer's 2018 outlook: "It’s safer to assume everything regresses a bit in 2018 – maybe the K% climbs and the power recedes a bit." A repeat of his triple-crown line of .285/30/85 with over 110 runs is definitely within his reach, but at a very deep outfield position, it doesn't justify taking him over the current crop of young stud infielders, such as Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Corey Seager, or even Cody Bellinger.


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