Elvis Andrus: Offensive Offense

Elvis Andrus continues to be more than an adequate fantasy shortstop. This may come as a surprise, considering Andrus is known far more for his glove work, and not his bat. Yet, even in a down offensive season, Andrus still ranked third among shortstops in Zach Sanders’ end of season rankings. If anything, this shows how low the bar has been set for shortstop production in fantasy. Most of Andrus’ fantasy production comes from two areas, his ability to score runs and steal bases. In every other area, Andrus’ offense has been lacking. Often lost in the shuffle is the fact that Andrus broke into the majors at age-20. Given that he’s going to be 25, there’s still a chance for an offensive breakout.

Andrus was hardly a finished product when he reached the majors, but the team was willing to overlook his limited ability with the bat for excellent defense at a key position. And though the bat hasn’t taken a big step forward, the Rangers are clearly happy with his overall production, signing him to an eight-year, $120 million contract last April. Fantasy owners only care about his offensive numbers, which is an area where Andrus could use some improvement.

When compared to similar players, Andrus appears among some interesting names. The biggest thing that sticks out is how much these players struggled offensively at the same age as Andrus. Contrary to what Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have shown in recent seasons, it’s just not wise to expect a 20-year-old to produce All-Star numbers at the plate.

The most comparable players to Andrus on that list are Edgar Renteria, Jimmy Rollins, Don Money and Kurt Stillwell when you take into account their strikeout and walk rates. How did these players perform during their age-25 seasons?

Name PA HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA 20-24 wOBA 25 WAR
Elvis Andrus 3289 18 8.20% 13.40% 0.274 0.339 0.348 0.310 N/A 16.0
Edgar Renteria 3116 44 8.00% 13.40% 0.275 0.334 0.376 0.316 0.349 6.9
Jimmy Rollins 2169 33 7.30% 15.30% 0.262 0.317 0.395 0.311 0.347 5.9
Don Money 1492 27 7.80% 15.50% 0.249 0.312 0.382 0.310 0.284 4.3
Kurt Stillwell 1782 21 8.50% 13.30% 0.252 0.319 0.363 0.308 0.296 3.3

It’s pretty much a mixed bag. Both Rollins and Renteria started to emerge as legitimate offensive threats. Money and Stillwell failed to improve on their offensive numbers. Money did, however, eventually turn into an above-average offensive threat. Starting at age-26, Money posted at least a .340 wOBA in seven of the next eight seasons. He had three seasons in that period where his wOBA was at least .360. Stillwell never turned into a viable offensive player.

What Andrus hasn’t shown is the ability to hit for double-digit home runs. Renteria, Rollins and Money all were able to do so before turning 25. Renteria settled in as a consistent double-digit power guy, while Rollins became more than that. Money was generally in the same category as Renteria, though did turn in an outlier 25 home run season. All these players offered a consistent power output, which is something Andrus has never flashed. Unless that changes, Andrus will have to hope to start hitting for better averages if he wants to improve his offensive numbers.

In this small sample of four players, there’s some evidence that Andrus will become a more effective hitter in time. It’s tough to say whether that will happen next season given the evidence. And while Andrus is somewhat similar to these players in output and approach, he hasn’t shown the same type of power output. In order for him to take that next step forward, he’s either going to have to start knocking balls out of the park or start hitting for a higher average. The latter is not out of the realm of possibilities given his skill set. It’s just not something fantasy owners should count on for next year.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

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Rudy H
Rudy H

In a standard 12 team roto league where should Andrus be drafted? I value him after round 9. Thoughts?