Sources: Rangers have decided Gold Glove-winning 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa will move to shortstop; replacing Elvis Andrus. A significant move on multiple fronts.https://t.co/s2zlAFAnRV— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) December 1, 2020
The move to shortstop means that Elvis Andrus will move to a different spot, whether it’s a utility role (most likely) or maybe to second base (replacing Rougned Odor). Either way there’s a changing of the guard coming, and you have to wonder what the move means to Kiner-Falefa’s value moving forward.
The bottom line is that Kiner-Falefa has often gotten a bit of hype (thanks to his eligibility at catcher, which he’s now lost), though the production doesn’t justify it. Over the past three seasons he’s gotten 846 PA, hitting .260 with 8 HR and 18 SB. While speed is harder to find, is that really enough to justify utilizing him?
Clearly he hasn’t shown much power, and you have to wonder just how much upside there is. Just look at some of these underlying numbers:
- Hard% – 29.4%
- Average HR – 370 feet
- Exit Velocity – 87.2 mph
- Launch Angle – 0.8 degrees
In other words there’s never going to be value in terms of his power and it will never be a selling point. What about his average?
Kiner-Falefa does bring a strong approach, with a 6.5% SwStr% and 30.2% O-Swing%. Without the power or elite speed, his 62.0% groundball rate without the impact contact isn’t a good mix for an elevated average. His .280 from 2020 was a career best, and over his minor league career he hit .274. In other words there’s little upside.
So what exactly are we buying? A little versatility (SS/3B), but with no power, a mediocre average and only a touch of speed? There’s simply nothing to get excited about or buy into.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball Reference