Elvis Andrus had a "down" 2014 season. He saw his homer total, RBI mark, runs scored mark and batting average all regress from 2013. He stunk. Or did he? Perhaps people have been far too quick to bury the 26 year old shortstop of the Rangers. Let's explore.
2005: Signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela as a 16 year old.
2006: Baseball America ranked him the 61st best prospect in baseball.
2007: Baseball America ranked him the 65th best prospect in baseball.
2008: Baseball America ranked him 19th while Baseball Prospectus had him 58th.
2009: Baseball America ranked him 37th while Baseball Prospectus had him 73rd.
TOTALS: .273/.343/.360with 19 homers, 222 RBIs, 322 runs, 144 SBs in 514 games.
I'm only going to list the 5x5 numbers for Andrus along with games played since he's an establishe.
2009: In 145 games he went .267-6-40-72-33.
2010: In 148 games he went .265-0-35-88-32.
2011: In 150 games he went .279-5-60-96-37.
2012: In 158 games he went .286-3-62-85-21.
2013: In 156 games he went .271-4-67-91-42.
2014: In 157 games he went .263-2-41-72-27.
Per 162 big league games: .272-4-54-89-34
The common line of thought with Andrus goes something like this - he stunk in 2014. Compared to 2013 his AVG, OBP, HR, RBI, runs scored and steals marks all went down. Therefore he did stink. Or did he? I'm here to argue he really didn't. Have a fallen an hit my head on the floor after a long night of drinking at the local fishing hole? Let's find out.
Andrus is a career .272 hitter.
Andrus hit .263 last year.
Andrus had a .305 BABIP.
His career mark is .314.
Andrus had a 2.81 GB/FB ratio.
His career mark is 2.70.
Andrus had a 0.48 BB/K ratio.
His career mark is 0.59.
Andrus was the same as always in this measure folks. The fact is it's just as easy for a .272 hitter to bat .263 as it is for him to hit .283. Are you panicking if you own Mike Trout? Shouldn't you be? After all he's a career .305 batter who hit just .287 last year, and that .018 point down turn is double the .009 points that Andrus lost last year.
FACT: If Andrus had five more hits last year he would have hit .272 - his career average. Over six months and 26 weeks Andrus was five hits off matching his normal mark.
Andrus has averaged four homers per 162 games in his career.
From 2011-13 he averaged four homers a season.
Andrus hit two homers last year.
He's not a power hitter, just ain't, so this is really a complete waste of time to talk about with Andrus. Still, for the sake of being thorough.
Isolated Power - which is slugging percentage minus batting average - showed a mark of 0.69 for Andrus in 2014. His career mark is .073.
Andrus had a .333 SLG in 2014.
His career mark is .345.
FACT: Yes he was 50 percent of his career "average" in homers, but a new loss of two big flies is nothing to even waste time thinking about.
RUNS BATTED IN
From 2011-13 Andrus had at least 60 RBIs each season.
Andrus had 41 RBIs last season, therefore he stinks. Well...
Sometimes we blame the hitter and that's warranted. Other times we blame the hitter and it simply isn't. Maybe it's both in this case.
(1) Andrus hit .208 with a .515 OPS with RISP last season. That effort was well below his career marks of .828 and .690.
(2) Let's compare the Rangers team to itself.
2013: .264/.329/.414 with 733 runs scored
2014: .256/.314/.375 with 637 runs scored
Every number went down including the club scoring nearly 100 fewer runs in 2014 than '13. Perhaps it wasn't just Andrus that let you down, perhaps it was the entire Rangers team who simply wasn't as effective offensively as they had been the previous season?
FACT: Andrus had 41 RBIs versus a 162 game average for his career of 54. A net loss of 13 runs batted in... is that worth getting your panties in a bunch over? You must be freaking out when you think about Miguel Cabrera who lost 28 RBIs from 2013 (137) to 2014 (109).
Andrus scored 72 runs in 2014 after recording at least 85 runs each of the previous four seasons (from 2010-13 Andrus was the only shortstop in baseball to score 85 runs each year).
First off, let's give Andrus credit for being consistent. ow that we've done that...
Andrus averages 89 runs scored per 162 games for his career, so scoring 72 times last season does stink. Was it his fault entirely? The answer is no. Partially yes, but not completely.
A career .335 OBP is what Andrus tosses out there. Last season that mark fell to a career worst .314. Still, the mark was just .328 in 2013 when he scored 91 times. We noted above the struggles the Rangers offense had last year. Let's compare again by looking at the teams effort the past two years with runners in scoring position.
Just like above the team was better in 2013.
Look, Prince Fielder appeared in 42 games, Mitch Moreland 52, Shin-Soo Choo was hurt all year leading to 123 infective games and Alex Rios (Player Profile) was a production mess in his lone year in Texas. Blaming Andrus isn't enough. You have to blame the poor play of his teammates as well for his drop in runs scored.
FACT: From 2010-14 Andrus is the only shortstop in baseball to scored 72 runs each year.
Per 162 games Andrus averages 34 steals a season.
In 2014 he stole 27 bases.
The issue wasn't that he didn't run, it was that he wasn't very successful. For the duration of his career Andrus has averaged 46 steal attempts a season. In 2014 he attempted to run 42 times. The problem was that he was thrown out 15 times after being caught an average of 10 times the previous three seasons. He has to do a better job converting his attempts. That is on him. Still, if he he stole three more bases last season - that's and extra 0.5 steals a month - he would have stolen 30 bases and I bet that the fact he hit that number would have artificially quelled the concerns of most. Our brains just love round numbers.
FACT: For 6-straight years Andrus has stolen at least 21 bases. He is the only shortstop in baseball in that club. Moreover, only one other man at any position can match that - Rajai Davis
Elvis Andrus has played at least 145 games every season of his career.
How many players have seen the field 145 times the last six years? Sixteen.
How many of those play shortstop? Two: Alexei Ramirez an Andrus.
The last three seasons Andrus has appeared in 471 games, the 10th highest total in baseball.
In this era of constant DL stints shouldn't a guy like Andrus, who is always out there, get at least a little boost in the rankings for the fact that he's always out there?
PLAYING TIME CONSIDERATIONS
You don't give a guy $120 million over eight years and bench him the first year that contract kicks in. Andrus will play every day, and if history is an indication bat second given that 586 of his 914 career games have had him hitting out of the two hole.
Much like Starlin Castro (Player Profile), Andrus is a very solid, young player who really doesn't get the respect his performance dictates he should receive. He doesn't have any pop, doesn't have the look of a guy who could hit .300, and certainly isn't going to light up the scoreboard with a big RBI effort in the coming season. But Andrus is consistently productive and he's consistently on the field. He also steals bases, and for the most part, scores a lot of runs. He ain't sexy, but that don't mean he ain't someone you should want in your sphere.
10 team lg: His lack of power is a detriment, but you can find your power elsewhere. A boring, lower level starting option who is solid, consistent and productive. Spend elsewhere and lock down the production with Andrus.
12 team lg: Remember, the guy averages 34 steals a season, oh, and 89 runs. You can't sit there an tell me you would be disappointed in an effort like that if he hit .270 with 60 RBIs, can you? I'll answer for you. You can't.
15 team lg: Given the perception that Andrus hasn't lived up to expectations, sucked last season, and is overpaid, there's zero hype with him heading into 2015. Use that to your favor and roster Andrus as a near lock to be a top-10 shortstop in 2015.
AL-only: Health, speed and production. I like it and would happily tab Andrus to be my starter at shortstop without hesitation in this format.