Apr 28, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) throws to first after forcing Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) at second base in the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
When spring training started we all got to see the awesome winter beard that Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus had grown over the offseason. It was probably best compared to Roy Munson of KingPin and was way better than Derek Holland‘s version a ‘my first mustache’.
But is really time to blame Andrus’ slump on the beard? First let’s take a look at the numbers. He finished March/April with a batting average of .229 with 5 doubles, 11 walks and 14 strike outs. His March/April batting average is his worst since starting with the Rangers in 2009. The worst he’s started off before this year was last year when he batted .248 and his best was in 2012 when he batted .293.
Offense hasn’t been the only problem for Elvis Andrus this season. His defense hasn’t been as sharp as normal. During the series when the Rangers hosted the Oakland Athletics he missed a routine ground ball that should have been good for a double play to end the inning. Instead, he miss the ball and the Athletics continued to tack on four more runs to make it a 7 run 3rd inning.
Watch the error by Andrus. The ball goes right between his legs.
He had 2 errors in that game to bring his season total up to 7. At the pace he’ll have 42 by the end of the season. He’ll easily break his personal worst record for most errors in a season, which is 25.
- 2009 – 22
- 2010 – 16
- 2011 – 25
- 2012 – 16
- 2013 – 14
- 2014 – 7 (March 31 – May 4)
Elvis Andrus has always been one of the best shortstops in the lead, especially with his fielding. He’s only been below the league fielding average once in his career (2011).
Why is Andrus in such a offensive and defensive slump? The most notable thing about Andrus is his new beard, but don’t blame the beard on his problems. The one real reason might be because he had too much time to grow an Abraham Lincoln beard. This was the first offseason that Elvis didn’t play in the offseason Venezuela winter baseball league.
He didn’t have the best numbers in the winter league. In 2013 he only batted .234 over 17 games/64 at-bats. When the regular season started for the Rangers, Andrus batted .250 and finished the season with only 14 errors.
During spring training there were signs that he was a bit rusty. He experience some soreness in his forearm which caused him to miss a few games. Luckily after a visit to the team doctor, no issues were found and he resumed baseball activities.
Overall, it does seem that not playing winter ball and doing much preparation in the offseason is a huge contributing factor in his offensive and defense slumps. Should he play offseason ball next year? No, he probably shouldn’t This year is more of an adjustment year. April has been slow start for him. Things should start to pick up for him now. By the end of the season Andrus should be the same players everyone has seen from year to year. So don’t blame the beard, it’s probably some adjustments he needs to make because of the changes he made during the offseason.