Surprise positional outlook: Shortstop
Today's position: Shortstop
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 Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.