George Springer hits another one, and the Astros are doing a really good imitation of a good team.
The Astros aren’t winning just because of George Springer. GM Jeff Luhnow has constructed an airtight bullpen. Dallas Keuchel has led a solid string of starts by the rotation. Jose Altuve is playing his way right on to the American League All-Star Team. Dexter Fowler has been very good as well.
Successful teams are living, breathing organisms. It’s not one thing. It’s a hundred. When things are clicking the way they are with the Astros right now, it feels like the club will never lose again.
After all the losing in recent years, a six-game winning streak feels like 20. Almost everyone–club employees, security guards, coaches–had an extra spring in their step at Minute Maid Park on Thursday. Winning does that to an organization.
And while Altuve has been tremendous and Fowler and Keuchel and others have done their jobs well, everything begins with Springer, who homered for the seventh time in seven games in a 3-1 victory over the Orioles.
He does more than make the Astros a better team. Actually, he makes every player better. He impacts the guys in front of him, and the guys behind him as well. He’s just 24 years old and has had fewer than 200 at-bats. There’ll be some tough days ahead.
But that’s just the beginning. He’s a guy Bo Porter can build his lineup around. He’s also the guy Jim Crane can construct his franchise around.
Springer is smart and personable and charismatic. Springer exudes charm. He’s also athletic and has a flair in how he does almost everything.
Isn’t it amazing how much difference one guy can make? Not just on the field, either. Fans look at the club differently. Players suddenly have a little extra spring in their step. Do you think Bo Porter might be sleeping a bit better. Oh, you betcha.
When Jim Crane bought the Astros in 2011, he said he was going to do it this way. He was going to give Luhnow the freedom to tear it down and built it back up. In doing so, there would be some serious short-term suffering. Once the Minor League system was rebuilt, though, the Astros might have something that would last.
Maybe we’re closing in on that moment. The Astros are 14-13 this month. First baseman Jonathan Singleton, who has 14 home runs at Triple-A, is in the on-beck circle. Carlos Correa and Mark Appel could be competing for jobs next spring.
Two years ago when the Orioles made their first playoff appearance in 15 years, they used 52 players. They could do this because they had so few contract obligations. Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette treated their team like it was a 50-man roster, shuffling players here and there.
In doing so, they had the freedom to keep searching for the right combination. That’s how it has been with the Astros the last few years. Luhnow has shuffled players on and off his roster at all, looking for guys good enough to stick around when the club got good again.
How good are they? Who knows?
All that’s clear is that there has been progress made, and that the club Porter is running on the field at Minute Maid Park these days is both entertaining and competitive.