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Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: It’s too soon to say that George Springer’s 2023 was the start of a decline

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Photo credit:David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
3 months ago
The big question this off-season is if George Springer is starting to decline.
This is the 40-man Roster Review, in which we’re going to take a look back at each player on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, and how they performed in 2023, as well as their outlook for 2024.
In 2023, Springer had his worst season to date, slashing .258/.327/.405 with 21 homers in 683 plate appearances for a career-low 104 wRC+, and his third-lowest fWAR of 2.2. For context, even with numerous injuries in 2021 that kept him to 342 plate appearances, he hit 22 homers and had a 140 wRC+. The 2022 season where he was battling injuries while playing still saw Springer post a 133 wRC+.
Is this the start of a decline, or was he just unlucky during the season? If anything, it was a very slumpy season, where he got off to a bad start, had a bad month in the middle, but looked like an above-average player throughout the majority of the season.
If you can recall, Springer had a horrendous start to his season, slashing just .225/.283/.315 with three homers in his first 120 plate appearances in April. This gave him a 68 wRC+. But he had better fortunes over the next two months.
Between May 1st and June 30th, Springer slashed .286/.354/.461 with eight homers in 229 plate appearances for a 127 wRC+, which helped boost his season wRC+ up to 106, before once again slumping in July where he finished the month with a 60 wRC+
He finished August and September slashing .275/.348/.444 with eight homers in 235 plate appearances, along with 11 doubles for a 119 wRC+
So what do you make of this? Well, it’s very hard to be a consistently good player through the season, and slumps tend to happen to even the best players. This sort of slumping reminds me of José Berríos’ 2022 season in a way, but to a large sample. He’d have two good games, before struggling for a game. Two thirds of Berríos’ season were great, but that one third elevated his numbers.
For what it’s worth, Fangraphs’ Steamer predictions believes he’ll have a better season, as they have him slashing .259/.333/.450 with 26 homers and a 117 wRC+ in 671 plate appearances for a 3 fWAR.
Unlike Berríos, there’s actually credence to the argument that Springer may be starting to decline. In September, he turned 34 years old, which is approaching “the wrong side of 30”. The 2023 season was the first season since 2016 where he exclusively played right field. This was in an attempt to keep him healthy, which he did for the first time in a Blue Jays uniform.
I think it’s fair to say that he may be starting to decline, but we’ll have to see how Springer performs in 2024 before we come to that conclusion.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Threads @Brennan_L_D. 

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