Elvis Has Not Left The Buillding
After inking a pretty solid new deal to stay a Texas Ranger for a while, Andrus started the season off slowly. It seemed that everything he hit was directly at an opposing infielder. In the month of April, his OBP was .291. He wasn’t getting on base. A BABIP of .283 suggests he was hitting the ball, but it wasn’t falling in his favor. He heated up in May. He looked more like the Elvis Andrus we’ve come to know and love. He got on base at a .339 clip. His OPS was .660. On May 18th, just the second day he hit leadoff for the season, he had a 5-for-5 game, which included a triple, a double, and two stolen bases. It felt like Elvis had figured it out.
In the 30 days since his 5-for-5 game, Elvis has been hitting .219/.282/.539. His BABIP has been even lower at .264. He’s making contact with the ball, but its bad contact. The ball isn’t going anywhere, except directly at opposing players. The patience has been gone again. June has been his worst month so far. .172/.234/.424 in 18 days. Those numbers are painful. His June BABIP is even lower at .208. He’s hitting groundballs at a 64.6% rating. With a BABIP so low, most of those are probably slow rollers to an infielder. While month-to-month hitting doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it is interesting to see what he’s done in just under three weeks. It’s not a pretty sight, and it’s obvious that something is wrong. This isn’t a two week slump. It’s not really a “he’ll get out of it” moment.
Andrus’ career line is .272/.338/.684. He’s never been a power hitter, and he probably never will be, but his OBP is good, and he averages 30 stolen bases a season. This season so far, he’s batting .241/.294/.581. Power is down. OBP is down. He does, however, already have 16 stolen bases, proving that when he gets on base, he can be a strength for the Rangers. The trick is getting him on base this season. His K% is up from 13.5 last year to 14.7, and his walk rate is down to 6.9 from averaging above 8. His patience is gone. He’s swinging at more pitches this year than he ever has. He’s swinging at pitches outside the zone more than he ever has. He’s swinging at more pitches in the bottom of the zone than he ever has. As a result his groundball percentage is above 60, and his fly ball percentage is under 20.
Elvis Andrus is 35th in the MLB in pitches per plate appearance with 4.04. So maybe he’s just swinging at the bad ones. Maybe he’s tired from playing almost non-stop baseball for over a year now, with his winter league and the World Baseball Classic. If I had the answer, I’d fix his swing. In the meantime, since Elvis Andrus joins David Murphy in the bottom of the offensive category for regular players, he shouldn’t be hitting so high in the lineup. Luckily, with Ian Kinsler back, he won’t be leadoff anymore, which is a spot he’s expressed he’s uncomfortable in anyway. Profar, Martin, and Kinsler should be at the top. It’s time to move Elvis down, at least until he figures out how to get on base again. Hopefully that will be soon. For now, I’ll just wait for a ground ball to be hit to him so I can watch him sparkle in the infield.