Surprise positional outlook: Shortstop
Today's position: Shortstop
John Rivera/Icon SMElvis Andrus has the ability to make plays other shortstops can't, but errors on routine plays have been a problem.
That was actually prior to the 2009 season. And the Rangers' logic made sense. They said then that they felt the competitive window for Texas was going to really start opening up in 2010 (most thought 2011 would be a year the club could contend for the World Series, so the team was a bit ahead of schedule by some estimates) and they wanted Andrus to have a season under his belt before then. So despite never playing in Triple-A, Andrus was promoted to the big leagues and handed the role of starting shortstop.
|RANGERS POSITION OUTLOOK|
| Jan. 23: Catcher |
Jan. 24: First base
Jan. 25: Second base
Jan. 26: Third base
Jan. 27: Shortstop
Jan. 30: Left field
Jan. 31: Center field
Feb. 1: Right field
Feb. 2: DH/Utility
Feb. 3: Bench
Feb. 6: No. 1 starter
Feb. 7: No. 2 starter
Feb. 8: No. 3 starter
Feb. 9: No. 4 starter
Feb. 10: No. 5 starter
Feb. 13: Middle/long relief
Feb. 14: Late-inning relief
Feb. 15: Coaches
Feb. 16: Manager
Feb. 17: Front office
He had 22 errors that first season and one focus was cleaning up the mental mistakes on easier plays. Andrus could make the impossible look easy, but at times would make the easy look impossible. Many of those errors were bad throws. He dropped the total to 16 in 2010 but saw it rise to 25. Errors aren't the only way to measure fielding and can certainly be misleading, but the bottom line is a player of Andrus' caliber shouldn't have that many errors in the field. The only player with more errors in 2011 was Orioles 1B/3B Mark Reynolds. In fairness, it should be pointed out that Andrus' range means he gets to balls that others can't, meaning those balls can turn into errors while for other shortstops they are just hits. But Andrus knows that part of his game must improve.
Andrus played well in August, batting over .300, and it appeared he was ready to go into the postseason on a roll. But the 23-year-old hit just .235 in the 2011 playoffs with one stolen base, one RBI and 10 runs scored. He did save his best play for the World Series, with multi-hit games in Games 3, 4 and 6. But he had seven strikeouts to one walk and overall in the postseason wasn't on base as much as he would like.
Still, Andrus is a big spark plug in the lineup. Manager Ron Washington has insisted on batting him second in large part because the Ian Kinsler-Andrus combination puts a ton of pressure on the opponent right away, having to get a couple of speed guys out. But Andrus can also bunt, move runners over and make contact. That allows Washington many options after Kinsler gets on base.
Andrus has plenty of skill and should continue to improve. He enters a new part of his major league service time now, becoming an arbitration-eligible player for the first time this offseason. But sides have exchanged figures (they are not quite $1 million apart) and hope to come to an agreement to avoid a hearing. It means that Andrus can be a free agent after the 2014 season. Scott Boras is Andrus' agent, BTW.
But the Rangers head into 2012 with a shortstop who now has three years of experience and is focused on improving.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss a hypothetical Jurickson Profar for Cliff Lee trade, how he would handle Profar's playing time with the Rangers and more.
Play Podcast Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus joins Galloway & Company to discuss having Scott Boras as his agent, his new contract and having Jurickson Profar in the lineup.
Play Podcast Rangers manager Ron Washington joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit to discuss Yu Darvish's pitch count and how he spends time in the clubhouse during weather delays.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway & Company for his weekly visit to discuss the latest Rangers news.
Play Podcast Reid Ryan joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his new position with the Houston Astros and whether he could see his dad, Nolan, joining him there in the future.
Play Podcast ESPN MLB Insider Jayson Stark joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss if the Rangers are the best team in baseball, what makes them so good and if he thinks the team will trade Jurickson Profar.
Play Podcast Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Ron Washington's decision to send Yu Darvish to the mound for the eighth inning Thursday night and how he would handle a situation like that if he were still a GM.
Play Podcast Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the latest Rangers news, including the Yu Darvish-Justin Verlander matchup.