Springer Shows After Absence

Earlier this season I mused that life was unfair because Bruce Chen had a bullpen job and Russ Springer did not. Today, life is still unfair as Chen has a rotation spot. Springer, though, is back in the thick of matters too, signing a contract with the Cincinnati Reds for a little less than $1 million. He’ll be up to the big leagues probably around the trade deadline, which probably shouldn’t affect the Reds’ plans too much, but who knows.

Springer is basically a right-handed specialist. Against lefties he has a FIP of 5 since 2003 while righties have only walked, homered, and struck out their way to a 3.22 FIP against him. While it’s a nice signing in the sense that the Reds will get a reliever who has posted FIP of 2.83, 3.51, and 4.06 over the last three seasons who is ever so familiar with the National League Central, it’s just … well, he doesn’t really fit their ballpark.

A byproduct of extreme flyballers is that some balls will clear the fences. Springer has held his home run per flyball percentage mostly in check over the last three seasons, but that’s while spending time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays. StatCorner has park factors by the batter’s hand and suggests that the parks Springer has succeeded in recently and the one he’s about to enter are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Here’s how those three home parks factor for right-handed batters’ home run rates:

TB: 96
STL: 73
OAK: 73

You know what Great American Ballpark’s figure is? 133. Springer had a decent career in Houston — albeit not like his past few seasons — and the park factor for RHB HR there is only 117. He’s about to enter an environment that just won’t suit his talents for at least half the games. He may succeed still, but if he doesn’t, I won’t be surprised. Of all the ballparks to pitch in, he just had to choose this one. Life just isn’t fair.

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