I've had some thoughts on Elvis Andrus on my mind for awhile that I've wanted to put in writing. More specifically, I've wanted to highlight the 2014 expectations for a guy that many consider to be a de facto leader of the clubhouse now that Ian Kinsler is in Detroit.
Coincidentally, Tim Cowlishaw has a piece up today in which he talks about the projected lineup and things he would do to "fix" it. The main point he has involves Andrus, and how he believes that having Andrus bat 2nd is an error by Ron Washington.
I’m not recommending that catcher Geovany Soto bat second, mind you. Just understand that he had the same on-base percentage as Andrus and hit more home runs in more than 450 fewer at-bats.
Cowlishaw goes on to recommend that Alex Rios be moved up to the 2-hole in the lineup, citing that, of all things, his sample size after an August trade to the Rangers should hold some extra merit.
First things first, I was a bit curious about how the Rangers stack up at every position in the lineup 1-9 as compared to league average. So I did some digging and compared the on-base percentage of the 2014 project lineup for the Rangers fared in 2013 at each spot in the lineup to the league-average since 2009.
Shin-Soo Choo should provide an obvious advantage at the top of the lineup due to his ability to get on base, that much we know. However, I find it interesting that, despite an abysmal start to the 2013 season, Elvis Andrus really wasn't that far off of the league average. With that said, I don't expect he'll start this season as poorly as last.
Since his trade to the Rangers in August, Alex Rios posted an OBP of .315. During that same time, Andrus posted an OBP of .342. If we want to include slugging percentage and go off of OPS, Rios posted .772 compared to .734 from Elvis.
There's nothing in that data that is concrete enough to make moving Elvis down in the lineup a slam dunk. In fact, if we're assuming Washington's in-game bunt strategies hold true -- and I've made my general disdain for the sacrifice bunt known on several occasions -- keeping Elvis batting 2nd makes even more sense.
All told, I actually expect a better overall season from Elvis Andrus in 2014. He's never going to be a consistent home run threat, but if he's able to hit something closer to the 31 doubles he hit in 2012 (as compared to 17 in 2013), then his overall numbers should be better for it.