Gehrig, Jackson, Bumgarner, Koufax - names that come to mind when you think all-time World Series performances.
Time to add “Springer” to that illustrious list.
After struggling through an ALCS win against the Yankees and a four strikeout/golden sombrero game against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, George Springer posted one of the greatest six game runs in World Series history with five home runs (including dingers in the last four games of the series), 29 total bases and eight extra base hits.
Springer’s scorching hot run made that rough performance against Kershaw last Tuesday the 24th a distant memory - his total bases and extra base hit totals for this insane series were a World Series record. The five homers tied Reggie Jackson’s legendary “Mr. October” series in 1977 and fatefully, now-Dodger Chase Utley’s 2009 series with the Phillies.
By more team-centric metrics, Springer’s performance also ranks among October’s elite. By cWPA (championship win probability added, tracked by The Baseball Gauge) Springer ranks 10th all-time in a single World Series (thanks to Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs for that top ten, here). CWPA tracks and accumulates a players’ individual offensive events (results of plate appearances, baserunning) and how close or further away those events help their team win the four needed games for a title.
Interestingly, Jose Altuve ranked second among cWPA for all players in the 2017 Series - a number boosted by his go-ahead home run in Game 2, and his game-tying home run off Kenta Maeda in Game 5, which represented the largest single event by cWPA in the series - all this despite hitting .194.
Doubly interesting is that cWPA doesn’t track defensive outcomes - notable for Springer who had the biggest defensive blunder of the series when he tried to dive for a Cody Bellinger line drive in Game 5 that ended up at the centerfield wall and put the Dodgers up 8-7 in the late stages. For Bellinger, that event ranked 5th in single-event cWPA, so it was a significant play that Springer allowed with the misplay.
But even with some other strong Astros candidates and the bad defensive gaffe, by the middle of Game 7 Springer’s MVP case in the event of an Astros victory was all but apparent. Even if Altuve’s two biggest hits hugely helped the Astros, or if you liked Charlie Morton as a darkhorse Series MVP, Springer just wore out Dodger pitching with raw offensive output.
This was George Springer at his offensive apex - mashing baseballs to all fields and not letting his swing get too long. George had high-impact hits down the line in left (Game 7 leadoff double), crushed to left (Game 5 moonshot off Brandon Morrow, Game 4 homer off Alex Wood, Game 7 homer off Darvish) and two home runs to right.
The most amazing thing of Springer’s insane run was how cold he was coming in to the series - 3 for his last 30 after the Kershaw Sombrero game where he looked completely lost at the plate. But after that game, something clicked. Or Springer was “due” for a breakout, or was given the appropriate confidence from A.J. Hinch, or something else. It may be interesting now to find out what Springer did to turn around what was a pretty mediocre October into one of the best ever - but at some point, we’ll look back at Springer’s World Series as one of the greatest ever, and the guy who played the biggest role in delivering Houston’s first baseball title.