The Elvis Enigma
By John Phelan
“Rhythm is something you either have or don’t have, but when you have it, you have it all over.” – The other (more famous) Elvis
Elvis Andrus is 25 years old. This season marks his 5th full season as an everyday shortstop for the Texas Rangers. To date, Andrus has raked in $14.92 million in total earnings. Over the next nine seasons, Andrus’ annual salary will fluctuate between $14 million and $15 million. Andrus’ season homerun total has yet to eclipse six and his peak batting average came in 2012 at .286.
So who are you, Elvis Andrus?
Are you a budding superstar or an overpaid flash in the pan? Can you see your prime through the windshield or in the rearview mirror? Four-tool player or offensively inept?
CBSSports.com ranks Elvis Andrus the 11th best shortstop in the major leagues and the best shortstop in the AL West during the 2014 season.
However, only four shortstops currently earn more than Andrus’ projected 2015 salary: Jose Reyes ($16M), Troy Tulowitzki ($16M), Hanley Ramirez ($16M), and Jhonny Peralta ($15.5M). Each rank higher than Andrus on the CBSSports.com rankings.
Recently, BattingLeadoff.com posted “The Albatross Calculator” detailing the worst contracts in baseball. Andrus made the list. (side note: Prince Fielder also made the list)
Elvis Andrus’ results…
Remaining Contract: $118 million
Market Value of Contract: $46.17 million
Team’s Value of Contract: $93.43 million
How to interpret: The Texas Rangers owe Elvis Andrus $118 million over the next 8 seasons. During that time, Andrus is projected to produce 23.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). The market values 23.5 WAR over the next 8 seasons to be worth $164 million. The Rangers, having a higher willingness to spend, value 23.5 WAR over 8 seasons at $211 million. Therefore, the market views Andrus as producing $46 million in surplus value, while the Rangers view him as producing $93 million in surplus value.
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All this to say: the Texas Rangers value Andrus at nearly double the market value. Not good.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Here’s the good part. Andrus ranked 38th on the 40 worst contracts scale, meaning it’s not as bad as it seems. Andrus’ contract remains one of the most tradable contracts on the list and still offers immense value.
Now for the other good parts. The Los Angeles Angels hold the rights to two of the three worst contracts in baseball (Pujols and Hamilton) with a combined Market Value of Contract exceeding -$250 million. Yeah, that’s negative.
Additionally, Ian Kinsler’s contract ranks worse than Andus’ with a Market Value at one-fourth of his remaining contract.
We’re getting off topic. The bottom line is this: Elvis Andrus and his contract are like a car mirror – better than they appear.
And don’t look now, but Elvis is continuing his habitual post-All Star break hot streak: .296 batting average and .352 on-base percentage in 29 games since the break.
So who is Elvis Andrus…
Is he overpaid? … Probably
Does he have flaws? … Yep
Does he have value? … Absolutely
Long live the King of catch n’ throw.