2013 Stats: .271/.328/.331, 42 stolen bases
Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this time we look at the man with an 80 grade smile, Elvis Andrus.
Year in Review: The 2013 season was a mixed bag of results for Andrus. His batting average was the lowest since 2010, and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage were both career lows. That is not something you want to see for a player going into his prime (25 years old). It took four months into the season before Andrus found his hitting stroke.
'Sometimes you just have to let guys struggle a little bit,' Manager Ron Washington said back in June.
On July 31, Elvis was hitting .253/.317/.294 for the season. The rest of the season, he hit .307/.353/.405. One glaring reason for the difference: Andrus' BABIP (Batting Average with Balls in Play) the first half of the season was .285 (career .316) which would suggest he was simply unlucky. The second half of the season his BABIP was .352 which would suggest that balls started finding the gaps for him.
Combine his second half performance with his superb defense and he finished the year with his highest rWAR of his career (4.3).
Career: Through his age 24 season, Andrus has 17.1 career WAR which places him 19th among position players in franchise history. According to Baseball Reference, Andrus is most similar in his career path to Hall of Fame candidate Alan Trammell. While Andrus' value has placed a premium on stolen bases (165-61) and defense, Trammell made his mark with his bat ( 95-85 OPS+).
If Elvis is able to develop his bat and play for the next 14 years, he will be a strong HOF candidate which is what Jon Daniels and the front office were banking on when they signed Andrus to the eight-year, $120 million contract extension. It has been noted many times, but never enough: If Elvis plays to his ability, then he will opt out of his contract in 2018 simply for business reasons.
2014 season: Is Elvis the player we saw the first four months of the season with an OPS hovering around .600 or is he the guy with the .758 OPS over the last two months? The Rangers and Ron Washington are hoping for the latter. Other than David Murphy, no other everyday player struggled at the plate as much as Andrus. This season, he can't wait until August to help the team offensively.
Fangraphs projects .274/.341/.363, 30 stolen bases and 3.2 WAR (2.8 fWAR in 2013).
This may be the year we see Andrus take the next step in his progression as a baseball player and become a 5+ win player. If he is able to do that with the addition of Choo and Fielder to this lineup, this team should go deep into the playoffs.
Eddie Middlebrook is a staff writer for Paranoid Fan, covering MLB and college football. Back in 2010, Eddie wrote for Fox Sports Southwest covering the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and the Big 12. In 2012, he began writing for Shutdown Inning where he eventually became Vice President of Media. You can email Eddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch him on Twitter @emiddlebrook
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