The 2014 season has been a Tale of Two Slumps for two crucial parts of the Texas Rangers lineup, Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder.
Fielder began his Ranger tenure with a bout of underachievement, batting just .164 through the first 16 games of the season. Since April 17, though, Fielder has gotten 17 hits in 16 games, hitting safely in 12 of the 16 contests.
He has raised his batting average 67 points in that span, while boosting his on-base percentage by 82 points and his slugging percentage by 80 points.
The extra-base hits and RBI numbers still aren’t on par with Fielder’s career numbers, though his five XBH and seven RBI since April 17 are a slight improvement over his four XBH and four RBI in the first 16 games.
Andrus’s season has been the direct opposite of the middle-of-the-lineup slugger’s.
Through April 17, Andrus was hitting at a .302 clip with a .333 on-base percentage. He hit safely in each of the first 11 games, and 15 of the first 16 - the only hitless game being the one during which he was ejected after just two at-bats.
During the last 16 games, Andrus’s batting average has plummeted 81 points, as he is hitting just .136 over that span. The slump included an 0-for-15 streak over four-plus games. The shortstop said on April 30 that he felt “lost” at the plate.
Manager Ron Washington moved Andrus, who hit second in the order in each of the first 30 games, to the bottom of the order for the last two (ninth in Los Angeles in an American League game, and eighth in Colorado with the pitcher batting ninth).
Andrus hit safely in each game at the bottom of the order. If residing at the bottom of the order - a strategy that works well for his teammate Leonys Martin, a .291 hitter this season - is the secret to breaking Andrus out of his slump, he may see more at-bats in that role.