Oh, Elvis, Where Art Thou?

As the Rangers come out of the All-Star break and head into the remainder of the season, many questions abound about the club. There are questions about pitching, who and/or if they will trade for a right handed bat or front line starter and questions about the health of players down the stretch. One burning question that has made the rounds is that of Elvis Andrus’ subpar season at the plate. In his first 4 seasons in Arlington, Elvis’ slash line is .275/.342/.353.
In 2013, Elvis has been less than adequate with a bat in his hands. His slash for this season is .242/.300/.280, which is not exactly what you look for in a #2 hitter. Thus, Wash made the only move that made sense and that was to move Andrus out of that spot in the order.

So what’s wrong with him? I have an idea.

Year Age Tm Lg PA Outs BAbip
2009 20 TEX AL 541 377 .305
2010 21 TEX AL 674 470 .317
2011 22 TEX AL 665 469 .312
2012 23 TEX AL 711 494 .332
2013 24 TEX AL 412 307 .285
5 Yrs 3003 2117 .313
162 Game Avg. 702 495 .313
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2013.
From 2009-2012 Elvis had a BAbip of .313, compared to his 2013 number of .285. So, Elvis isn’t finding holes in the defense as he did in his first 4 years.  But using BAbip as a sole stat to look at him as a hitter is not the true gauge of his offensive output, or lack of. There is something more telling:

Year Age Tm Lg PA IF/FB
2009 20 TEX AL 541 7%
2010 21 TEX AL 674 8%
2011 22 TEX AL 665 7%
2012 23 TEX AL 711 7%
2013 24 TEX AL 412 16%
5 Yrs 3003 9%
MLB Averages 13%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2013.
Andrus’ IF/FB% has more than doubled, which is the percentage of flyballs that are in the infield. This number includes line drives, but if we look at his LD% (line drive percentage), it is virtually the same this year as it has been for his career. What does that leave? Popups? Not necessarily, but if his line drive rate is at close to the same rate…..I’ll let you come to your own conclusion.

In 2013, Andrus has made 307 outs, which leads all of baseball. At a 16% IF/FB clip,assuming we count those as outs (which they are not all outs, but for fun let’s pretend for a second), Elvis has hit approximately 49 balls of the infield fly variety. In 2012, he made 494 outs with a IF/FB of 7%, which is approximately 34 infield flys. If Elvis was at his career rate of 7% this year, that is approximately an extra 28 plate appearances to play with.  If he turned a third of those 28 plate appearances into hits, that would raise his batting average to .266, slightly below his career average of .275.

We can’t say he would turn those outs into hits, nor can we say those are all outs. We also cannot assume those are all popups. However, with an LD% at the same rate, an IF/FB% more than double, and a BAbip considerably lower than his normal output, we can draw a conclusion that it is probably a contributing factor to Elvis’ struggles. At some point, Elvis is going to start seeing progression back to his normal numbers. 

Hopefully that progression will start Friday at home against the Orioles.

And because we are all curious, here is Ian Kinsler.

Year Age Tm Lg PA IF/FB
2006 24 TEX AL 474 14%
2007 25 TEX AL 566 14%
2008 26 TEX AL 583 11%
2009 27 TEX AL 640 19%
2010 28 TEX AL 460 13%
2011 29 TEX AL 723 17%
2012 30 TEX AL 731 21%
2013 31 TEX AL 307 21%
8 Yrs 4484 16%
MLB Averages 13%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2013.
Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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