Elvis Andrus is off to a fantastic start to the 2019 season. Is it time to consider the Texas Rangers shortstop one of the best at his position in MLB?
Shortstop has long been the money position in baseball. It’s widely considered the toughest, flashiest and most star-driven position. Players like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra only strengthened its reputation in the early 2000s. Those were my idols as a kid. I’d imagine a lot of young Texas Rangers fans aspire to be Elvis Andrus these days.
Andrus is off to a white-hot start. He’s hitting .403 with a .420 OBP, .627 SLG and 1.047 OPS. Take those stats in order and compare them to shortstops across the league, Andrus ranks 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. He’s also 1st in hits, 2nd in RBI and 3rd in triples. The Texas captain has led the charge out of the gates to begin the season.
Taking into account his performance, intelligence, leadership and overall influence on his team, who’s to say Elvis Andrus isn’t the most valuable shortstop in MLB right now?
It’s without a doubt a star-studded position. Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Javier Baez get most of the national spotlight. Deservedly so, as each is a top-tier talent. However, the SS for the Rangers has outplayed just about all of them at the outset of 2019.
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Lindor hasn’t played yet this year and Turner played only four games before breaking his index finger. The rest have played routinely. Chicago’s Tim Anderson, Seattle’s Tim Beckham and Oakland’s Marcus Semien are off to surprisingly great starts.
Nothing about Andrus’ start is surprising. He’s a professional hitter with a classic approach. He’s consistent, reliable and selfless. He’s the kind of player that any team would want (just like his buddy Adrian Beltre was).
Does he have the strongest arm? No. Does he have the most powerful bat? Absolutely not. Is he the most talented shortstop? No. But he does everything well and his game is so refined that he has a leg up on many of his younger counterparts.
Deeming one player the best at his position is entirely subjective. Just look at the ongoing and never ending debate as to who the best all-time NBA player is. There’s no right answer, only opinions.
My opinion at the moment is that the Texas Rangers have the best shortstop in the game. That may change once Lindor returns to the Indians and as the season plays out for some of those top-tier players I mentioned earlier. But right now, who’s to say Andrus isn’t the best?
Every argument must be backed by statistics, and, statistically, Andrus is the best across the board. His direct competition is Tim Anderson. While Anderson is having an outstanding season, he doesn’t have anywhere near the track record that Andrus has. Thus, you can’t trust him to keep pace like you can with Andrus.
As long as Elvis keeps his slugging numbers up, he’ll remain towards the top of the MLB shortstop rankings. We know he’ll hit for a good average and we know he’ll score a lot of runs. If he can match or exceed his power production from 2017 (20 home runs and .473 SLG), then maybe I’ll jump on this topic again sometime in September. Hopefully that’s the case.