by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We’ve continually waited for Elvis Andrus to put it all together and live up to the hype once bestowed upon him. The focus had been on his speed, but when it finally came together in 2017 it wasn’t just stolen bases that he provided. Instead he surprisingly paired speed with power and posted an across the board impressive season:
643 At Bats
.297 Batting Average (191 Hits)
20 Home Runs
25 Stolen Bases
.337 On Base Percentage
.471 Slugging Percentage
.325 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The obvious question has become is he really a perennial .290/20/25 threat or was 2017 a career year, with a regression on the horizon? The answer isn’t cut and dry, so let’s dive in and break it down.
This is obviously the biggest question facing Andrus, having never hit 8 HR in a year previously. He added 44 doubles and 4 triples, so it’s clear that something changed playing most of the year as a 28-year old. There were more fly balls than previously, but the mark was not an outrageous one:
- Career – 24.5%
- 2017 – 31.5%
The big change was in his HR/FB, which more than doubled as he posted and 11.6% mark compared to a career 5.1%. It was consistently elevated, with only one month below 11.5% (7.1% in August), and it wasn’t due to his favorable home ballpark as he hit more home runs on the road (13) than he did at home (7).
It’s still hard to believe that his power has suddenly blossomed to this type of number, but it’s also hard to ignore. It’s not impossible that he replicates it, but the safer route would be to go in expecting a small regression in the production (14-17 HR).
We would’ve thought that the change in approach would’ve led to significantly worse discipline. He did start chasing outside the strike zone more than he had, showing a bit more aggressiveness, but are these numbers going to raise a significant red flag:
- SwStr% – 8.5% (5.5% for his career)
- O-Swing% – 33.9% (24.7% for his career)
The increased power helps to offset the potential spike in strikeouts (14.7% strikeout rate in ’17, compared to 13.3% for his career). Again maybe there’s a small regression, but he’s not going to fall off a cliff.
This may be the biggest “issue” category, with it hard to envision him replicating his production in these categories. He’s not penciled in to hit in the leadoff spot, similar to ’17 where he spent the bulk of his time hitting second (350 AB) and third (214 AB). The small regression in his HR/AVG will lead to him falling short in R, and you also have to wonder if he’ll get quite as many RBI chances. They aren’t going to disappear, but a step back should be expected.
.285 (171-600), 16 HR, 65 RBI, 85 R, 26 SB, .316 BABIP, .331 OBP, .438 SLG
Would anyone really complain about those numbers? They are a small step back from what he did in ’17, but they are productive and among the better options in the league. He’s not going to be a top tier option, but Tier 2? He’s right there and well worth targeting after the top names are off the board.
Source – Fangraphs
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