The Blue Jays centre fielder may need to adjust to being the DH in September to keep his bat in the line up for the team’s playoff run
Yes, George Springer played centre field in yesterday’s epic match up between Alek Manoah and Shohei Ohtani. Yes, George Springer is super athletic and plays very hard and Blue Jays fans admire that. George will reach the 100 games played mark today against the Angels. That beats the 78 he got into during the 2021 campaign.
We have to be honest with ourselves. With the Wild Card race so close, the Toronto Blue Jays cannot afford to sit George Springer in the month of September. They need his bat at the top of the order. It lengthens the lineup and it changes the way teams not only approach Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but it makes everyone else dangerous. It puts Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Matt Chapman lower in the batting order, and at any point in the time it allows the Blue Jays to get out in front and put runs on the board.
We’ve seen this pattern over the past two seasons. Springer would sit out, or he would go on an IL stint. He would come back DH at first and then move back into playing centre field. Then he would get injured either at the plate, on base or in the field. We would repeat the same process again and we’ve seen it now in 2022 with the elbow and the leg injuries.
Alejandro Kirk and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lead the team in Wins above replacement and 3.6 and 3.5. Springer is third on the club with 3.4. If I am Manager John Schneider I would run the gauntlet with the guys I have. The scheduled off days are over. For the Jays to make the playoffs they will need Springer’s bat in the line up every day. The one offs in centre field may be okay, but like the Toronto Raptors did with Kawhi Leonard in 2019, John Schneider will need to be careful and manage his work load. If the game is late and the Jays have a lead then one of the team’s suitable outfield replacements can spell Springer off.
The Blue Jays do have capable centre fielders if given the at-bats. Whit Merrifield did lead the American League in hits in years past. Jackie Bradley Jr. was an ALCS MVP and can play a solid centre and right. Raimel Tapia has been very consistent during this 2022 campaign with timely hits and timely defence. His contact and speed also add some value to the lineup in scraping runs across.
If George Springer can stay healthy in September the Blue Jays will make the playoffs. The only way to almost guarantee that is to keep as the DH.