George Springer and the unfortunate aging curve

Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Ian Hunter
9 hours ago
Father time comes for all of us. In baseball, that finality is expedited. One year, you’re on top of the world, and the next you might not even crack a Major League roster. It’s a cruel and unfortunate fate that bestows every player, eventually.
With that depressing lede out of the way, it ties into an interesting tweet Tom Tango sent out last week. This was something most of us suspected already about the aging curve, but now there’s the data to back it up. At age 31, the bat speed trends downwards.
There’s one person I thought of right away after seeing this tweet: George Springer. At age 34, he’s right in the middle of that slide down the swing speed cliff. In year four of his six-year deal with the Blue Jays, there are already some troubling trends.
Going into this $150 million contract, there was an understanding that Springer would not be the same All-Star calibre player for the entire duration of his time in Toronto. The Blue Jays were paying for the production up front to push the team over the top in the short term, but there was always a thought that the back end of the contract would not look great in the long term.
This season alone, he’s one of several key players who continue to struggle to produce at the plate. The top third of the Blue Jays’ lineup is hitting like a bottom third of a lineup, and their extra-base power has flown out the window.
While there should be some concern cast upon 26-year-old Bo Bichette and 25-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr., they still have time to make adjustments and right the ship. But when it comes to 34-year-old Springer? That looks a little murkier.
Let’s start with his average exit velocity. Since his debut with the Blue Jays in 2021, it’s trended downwards from 89.4 MPH, to 88.7 MPH in 2022, to 88.3 MPH in 2023, and to 86.6 MPH in 2024 so far.

Springer’s average launch angle also peaked at 19 degrees in 2021 with the Blue Jays, which trickled down to 14 degrees in 2022, to 12 degrees in 2023, and to 8 degrees in 2024.

In concert with this decline in average exit velocity and average launch angle, Springer’s extra-base hit percentage has taken a sharp dive over the last few years as well. It was a monstrous 12.3% in 2021, then down to 8.8% in 2022, down to 6.9% in 2023, and currently at a career-low 5.6% in 2024.
Maybe this is by design with a new hitting approach, maybe it’s because of a lack of power, but Springer is only pulling the ball 33.7% of the time this season, spraying the ball evenly to all fields. Going back to just 2022, his pull rate was 45.7%, and it’s no surprise that he did most of his extra-base damage to the pull side.

George Springer’s Pull Side Stats (2021 to 2024)

YearAVGSLGLaunch AngleExit Velocity
2021.422.96111.7°88.7 MPH
2022.342.6637.4°88.7 MPH
2023.328.5905.3°87.5 MPH
2024.25.5006°87.5 MPH
At this point in his career, I don’t think anyone has any illusions that he’ll return to his red-hot post-injury form with the Blue Jays from his 2021 campaign. The entire Blue Jays lineup from that season captured lightning in a bottle that might never be replicated.
The issue today lies in where he’s stationed in the batting order, eating prime at-bats in the leadoff spot. Luckily, the Blue Jays already tore that bandage off late last year when, for the first time since July 24, 2021, he wasn’t pencilled in as Toronto’s leadoff hitter.
Credit to Springer, who despite the absence of power, is still getting on base at a decent clip. He’s drawing walks and seeing an average of 3.52 pitches per plate appearance. His 11.1% strikeout rate is one of the best in baseball this season.

Springer Plate Discipline (2021-2024)

In terms of rebranding, it’s not the worst way to remodel your game. This is someone who has recognized his strengths this season and appears to be leaning into his new moniker as an on-base guy instead of a power hitter.
It’s unfortunate that Springer’s gap-to-gap power seems to have evaporated, and this year looks more like a slappy singles hitter who gets the occasional double down the line rather than the top-of-the-order threat that every lineup should have.
It would be one thing if there was a suitable replacement for Springer at the top of the order, but yanking him out of the top spot now would create another hole in a prime spot in the lineup that nobody else is challenging for either.
But if guys like Bichette, Guerrero and the catching tandem of Kirk and Jansen find those extra-base hits, the conversation will need to be had again about leaving Springer further down in the lineup and probably in a “from now on” capacity.
Somehow, that 2021 season feels like yesterday, but it also feels like 10 years ago. Springer only played 78 games that season, but many times, he put the Blue Jays on his back and willed them toward a win.
These days, it feels like that Springer era is distant in the rearview mirror.

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