When he arrived in the major leagues in April 2014, earned a reputation for dancing. The 2014 were still awful, one year short of success, and his energy helped chase the ever-present losses. Hours before every game, he’d blast music in whatever clubhouse they occupied, uniting an odd stew of veteran retreads and incipient talent.
He has always found joy in baseball. Even now, on a roster infused with leaders last winter, Springer is responsible for setting the tone. Specifically, he picks the pregame playlists and he dances along with them. On Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, he started with a 1980s-inspired, synth-heavy mix before segueing into Puerto Rican reggaeton, seeking to please all by loosening Game 7-related tension.
“The jams today, I can say,” Springer said, “were on point.”
Hours later, Springer danced through the night as the Astros secured their first title, only three years removed from their status as league outcasts. For his energizing efforts in Houston’s 5-1 Wednesday win and throughout the latter six games of this delirious series, Springer unanimously won the series’ Most Valuable Player award.
Springer, 28, was not the first Astros’ star from this team to debut, nor is he the biggest. is the former, may prove to be the latter. But Springer is steady power and playlist contributor, the tone-setting leadoff hitter.
“George really is at the top of our order for a reason,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said amid the on-field celebration. “He provides a lot of energy. When he’s hot, we’re hot. He started off the game with a ton of energy tonight in the most critical game of the year.”
Springer finished the Championship Series in poor form, and he began this series with the worst performance possible. Facing both Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen for the first time in his life, he struck out in every Game 1 opportunity he had.
“Nothing was wrong with him,” Hinch said. “He just faced the best pitcher in the world.”
Hinch fielded questions about whether he should drop him in his lineup. He said it was not a consideration.
“Enjoy this,” Hinch texted Springer the morning of Game 2. “This is the best time of our baseball life.”
So many Astros have similar stories. Last summer, Hinch approached Alex Bregman after he began his career with five hitless games, saying he was moving him up in the order as a show of confidence.
The gestures have worked. Springer began Game 2 with a double and ended it with the winning home run. On it went in the World Series. On Wednesday, he whacked ’s third pitch for a double and Darvish’s last pitch for a homer.
No one ever hit more World Series home runs than Springer’s five in 2017. No one had ever homered in four consecutive World Series games, or notched an extra-base hit in six. His eight extra-base hits were three more than any Dodger logged, and he did it while playing a sturdy center field.
“He’s dynamic,” Astros catcher said. “He’s a free safety playing baseball. He hit the ball 450 feet, played gold-glove center field, scored from first every time there was a double.”
Over the weekend in Houston, Springer watched an Network rerun of Game 3 or 4 at his home with his parents. His father, George Springer Jr., a Connecticut lawyer, asked him what he wanted most out of this World Series experience. After a beat, the camera panned into the Minute Maid Park crowd, and Springer answered that he wanted to bring joy to Houston’s fans.
It was only fitting. He derived so much pleasure from this postseason run. He wanted to extend the privilege.
After it all ended, Springer described a total depletion of his emotions. But he was proud of his and his team’s performance, proud of how he recovered from the bleak beginning.
“If I was going to go down,” he said, “I was going to go down on my accord.”
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