There has long been hype surrounding George Springer and his upside, at a time being viewed as a potential 30/30 stud. That’s never come to pass, though he’s scored 100+ runs in three straight seasons and has hit as many as 34 HR.
After a monster 2017, when he hit 37 HR with 124 RBI and 93 R, Marcell Ozuna was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals and promptly disappointed. Injuries likely played a part in the struggles, though the fact that his numbers were right in line with his 2016 marks has caught people’s attention.
It makes sense that Springer is currently going ahead of Ozuna in NFBC drafts, based on average ADP:
- George Springer – 58.48
- Marcell Ozuna – 71.74
What’s interesting is that the two had nearly identical 2018 campaigns, yet Ozuna is the one garnering all of the attention as the disappointment:
So it’s fair to wonder, when planning your draft board why does it make sense to take Springer when you can wait a round and select Ozuna (or just make the selection of Ozuna instead of risking missing him)?
Springer is going to have the advantage in runs scored, hitting atop the Astros’ lineup, but where else is he going to outperform Ozuna? He’ll drive in some runs, but he’s not going to have the same types of opportunities. He’s going to hit home runs, but he doesn’t appear to have the potential to be a 40+ HR threat. He’s never hit more than 34 HR in a season, and that may be his ceiling (think of him as more of a 25-29 HR hitter, with a groundball rate of 48.2% or greater over the past three seasons). The speed, which once was among his biggest selling points, has never translated (he has 20 total stolen bases over the past three seasons).
Springer is a career .265 hitter, courtesy of a .311 BABIP. Look at his Hard% over the past four seasons and decide what type of player he is:
- 2015 – 33.8%
- 2016 – 33.6%
- 2017 – 36.7%
- 2018 – 33.4%
Last season that led to a .303 BABIP, and without significant power he should continue to be more of a .265-.270 hitter.
There were high hopes for Ozuna, getting out of Miami, and you have to wonder how much his shoulder injury zapped him of his power. When you look at his HR/FB, by half, it makes sense that it’s at least part of the equation. He showed signs of putting things back together, with a 17.6% HR/FB in the second half and two months of 20.0% or better among the final four. He had 13 HR over 231 AB in the second half, and maintaining that pace would’ve put him inline for around 34 HR in a 600 AB season (he had a 23.4% HR/FB in ’17)
It’s important that Ozuna didn’t start swinging for the fences (34.9% fly ball rate), while he continued to hit the ball hard (45.2%) and maintain a solid approach (11.3% SwStr%, 32.5% O-Swing%). It shows that he was willing to stay within himself, and there are a few things that should work in his favor:
- A return to health
- The addition of Paul Goldschmidt, taking off some of the pressure to produce (and adding RBI/R opportunity)
- A year of experience playing in St. Louis
Ozuna should have the advantage in HR/RBI, and while they could be close in AVG he’s a career .277 hitter and should edge Springer out there as well. Springer is going to score more runs, but it is 15-20 R enough to make up the difference in HR (5-8) and RBI (10-15)? Only if Springer is suddenly going to steal 15+ bases, and since that’s not something we’d expect the answer is no.
Ozuna is likely to be more valuable than Springer outright, and if you can wait a round and use the earlier pick on an asset at another position (Ozzie Albies or Eugenio Suarez have similar ADP) it’s an easy decision. Target Ozuna every time.
What about you? Who would you prefer in 2019, George Springer or Marcell Ozuna? Why?
Sources – Fangraphs, NFBC