by Dave De Wit
Washed up at 24 years old. Poor Elvis Andrus started his major league career at the age of 20 full of promise and hope, and now he is washed up just four years later. Obviously I’m not referring to his real life baseball career — he’s one of the best shortstops in the game. I’m talking about his fantasy career.
After an impressive rookie season, the youngster shot up pre-draft rankings with many touting his high upside. However, despite steady performance and improvements, Andrus’ draft stock has taken a big hit entering 2013. His ranking here at Rotoprofessor just a year ago was 75th overall. This year he has dropped to 130th overall, and has seen a similar drops in rank on other sites as well. The question is: Is Elvis Andrus undervalued as we head into the 2013 fantasy season?
Before we get into that, lets look at his 2012 season:
629 At Bats
.286 Batting Average (180 Hits)
3 Home Runs
21 Stolen Bases
.349 On Base Percentage
.378 Slugging Percentage
Andrus was a three-category player in 2012, as he was in 2011. His home runs and RBI totals left a lot to be desired, as you would expect from a middle infielder who bats second. The kid had a relatively similar season last year as the year before, but there were some significant changes.
The most troubling change was Andrus’ drop in stolen bases. He failed to reach 30 steals for the first time in his four year career, only swiping 21 bags in 31 attempts. For a player whose value is directly tied to his speed, there is major cause for concern, but Elvis wasn’t the only Ranger that had trouble on the base paths—the whole team did.
In Andrus’ first three years in Texas, the Rangers averaged 138 steals in 181 attempts a year, but last season they stole just 91 bases in 135 attempts. Ron Washington said to Dallas News blogger Evan Grant last September, “We are in a bad way on the bases right now,” which was proven by their 67% success rate last year compared to 76% the previous three seasons. Washington went on to say that they “…we’re not going to stop running,” but by that time, they already had.
After the All-Star break, the Rangers stole an American League worst 26 bases (only the Pirates stole less in the MLB with 25). Andrus, who annually slows down a bit in the 2nd half, slowed down a lot with just 5 steals after the break compared to 16 in the first half. He, his teammates and especially Ron Washington lost confidence on the base paths as 2012 went along. Given Washington’s lead-footed history, Andrus and the Rangers should get right back into the running game in 2013, propelling Andrus’ stolen base total back to pre-2012 levels.
Andrus did improve his average for a second straight year, mainly due to a career high .332 batting average on balls in play, up 20 points from the previous year despite a slight dip in his line drive rate. With or without that little spike in BABIP, we can basically pencil Andrus in for a solid .280 average next year which would rise if he can put a few more balls in the seats.
Let’s not forget that Elvis will be just 24 years old this season and is on the cusp of manhood. While he is a speedy middle infielder, that doesn’t make him scrawny, in fact he’s quite beefy. While just six feet tall, he is listed at a hefty 200 pounds. That kind of frame entering his man-muscle years definitely raises some eyebrows for potential power. Add in the fact that Andrus increased his slugging percentage for the third straight year after lacing 31 doubles and 9 triples in 2012 (both career highs), and there is still hope that he can reach double digit homers especially while playing half of his games at that launch pad of a park in Arlington.
While 2013 may mark the death of Elvis Andrus’ hype, it may lead to him being available in the late rounds of more educated leagues whose owners are sick of his over-rated history. Suddenly, when he’s not one of the first shortstops off the board, he could be a great value late in the draft.
We have already talked about Elvis Andrus a few times this preseason, so make sure to check out these other great articles for more on him:
- Fantasy Throwdown: Elvis Andrus vs. Alcides Escobar
- Top Five Hitter Groundball Rates (Andrus ranked #4)
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Make sure to check out our 2013 rankings (all of which will be updated in the next few weeks):
- Catchers (updated 01/03/13)
- First Basemen (updated 01/15/13)
- Second Basemen (updated 01/22/13)
- Shortstops (updated 01/24/13)
- Third Basemen (updated 01/29/13)
- Outfielders 1-20 (updated 02/06/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/07/13)
- Starting Pitchers 1-20 (updated 02/12/13) | 21-40 (updated 02/14/13)
- Relief Pitchers (updated 01/31/13)