Elvis Has Not Left The Buillding

elvis
June has been a struggle for the Texas Rangers. Two of the clubs best hitters have spent the majority of the month so far on the disabled list, and the offense fell into a big slump. The team has been hitting .219 and getting on base at a .291 clip. Most recently, during a four game series with the Blue Jays, they were outscored 24-4. Elvis Andrus has been leading off while Kinsler was on the DL and underperforming offensively. Andrus has never been known to be a powerful hitter, but his numbers are significantly below his career averages. While they are worse in June, they aren’t particularly great in any month.
Elvis Andrus isn’t great because of his offense. He’s great because he can make unbelievable plays in the field. He can grab a ball, spin, and throw so quickly and accurately that you barely understand what happened. His defensive metrics have been consistently good throughout his career. Just this year alone, his UZR is 4.4, which is above average. Because of his defense, his offense doesn’t have to be spectacular to make him a good player. It just simply has to be decent. It’s not been decent.

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.

Emily Cates is a Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can reach her at Emily.Cates@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter at @EmLikesBaseball.
Emily Cates

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