Elvis Andrus is a somewhat polarizing player in fantasy baseball. Some people love his speed. Others think there isn’t much to separate him from Alcides Escobar. Others think the Rangers might be better off trading him and letting Jurickson Profar have at it (as of now it appears that Profar will begin the year in the minors with Andrus playing shortstop and Ian Kinsler holding down the fort at second base). In what follows I’ll given the pro’s and con’s with Andrus as we try to ferret out what his true value should be heading into 2013.
Andrus has been a very durable player. During his four year big league career he’s played at least 145 games every season and has hit 150 games played the last two years.
Andrus has hit .275 for his career. That’s not a huge number by any means, but it’s about .020 points better than the league average so there needn’t be any worry about him in this measure. It should also be pointed out that he’s seen his average climb from .265 to .279 to .286 the past three years. Also, he’s been extremely consistent in the BABIP category. For his career his BABIP is .317. The last three seasons that mark has been .317, .312 and .332. Again, consistency which I really like to see. For his young career his line drive rate is 21.6 percent. In three of his four years the mark has been at least 21.9 percent (the only year it was below that was 2010 when it was still at the big league average at 19.3 percent). Andrus is also a rock star at knowing what he is good at and sticking with it. What he does well is keep the ball out of the air. For his career his ground ball rate is 57.4 percent. In his four seasons that mark has been between 55.8 and 61.1 percent. Again, consistency. As a result his 2.72 career GB-rate, a total he exactly matched last season by the way.
Andrus has speed. Some will points out that he stole “only” 21 bases last year, and for a guy who swiped 33, 32 and 37 his first three years that is disappointing. But is there anyone out there who legitimately thinks he couldn’t steal 30 bases again this season? Come on now. How about these facts? His total of 123 steals the past four years is the most in baseball for a shortstop (three more than the oft injured Jose Reyes). Andrus is one of 17 men in baseball who has stolen at least 20 bases in each of the past four years. He’s also the only shortstop in baseball who belongs in that club.
Andrus scored 72 runs his first season, but over the past three seasons he has scored 88, 96 and 85 runs. The last three seasons he is one of 10 men who have scored at least 85 runs in each season. He is the only shortstop that can make that claim. Over the last four years only one shortstop has scored more runs – Derek Jeter (401 to 341). Andrus is third in runs scored the past three seasons at the position – Jeter (294), Reyes (270) and Andrus (269).
He’s yet to hit .290 in a season.
He’s never hit seven homers in a season. In fact, he’s gone deep just 14 times in four seasons. He’s completely deficient in the homer category and that isn’t going to change.
He’s never been an RBI machine. In his first two seasons he knocked in a total of 75 runners. The last two seasons he’s at least improved a little bit up to 60 and 62 RBIs. Still, that’s just not a number anyone wants to see from their starting fantasy shortstop.
He only stole 21 bases last year after 3-straight years of 30 steals.
Don’t know about you, but doesn’t the “pro” section look to be a lot more substantial than the “con” section with Andrus? There are some players, think Juan Pierre/Ben Revere/ Brett Gardner etc., that are extremely talented in one respect or another, but totally disappointing in another faze of the game. It’s just how it works folks. Instead of bashing Andrus for his lack of power, a completely fair point to bring up by the way, why don’t we celebrate what he is – a durable, young player who steals bases and scores runs with the best at his position. Andrus has also been an extremely reliable/steady player from year to year without the wild swings that some players throw out there. Andrus also owns a skill set that says his career .275 batting average is totally legit while there might still be a .300 season in his bat and legs. Is he an extremely different player than Alcides Escobar who I referenced at the top of this piece? No he isn’t. Can you get Escobar at a cheaper cost on draft day? You certainly can if you judge the answer by the NFBC ADP information. However, remember this. Personally, I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for stability/predictability. It’s possible that the better play in ’13 will end up being Escobar, but as I noted in his Player Profile there are more questions with Escobar than Andrus. For me, I’ll take a shot on Andrus, especially if he falls a bit on draft day, because I get the felling that there just might be a pretty impressive season in the cards for the Rangers’ starter at shortstop.
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By Ray Flowers