Story #2 and #3
Elvis Andrus has been on a tear. Elvis went into Sunday’s game reaching base at a .391 clip and slugging .409. Both of those are far above his career averages (.344 and .348, respectively). For those that don’t care to do their own math, that gives him a season OPS of .800. Elvis tacked onto those numbers by going four for five with a double mixed in. What has been more exciting to me is the fact that Elvis hasn’t just been hitting the ball…he’s been hitting it hard. He’s had a number of long opposite field hits this year, and even more long opposite field outs. He’s shown not only improved power, but the ability to use that power to all fields. He’s had shots up the middle, line drives to left, and doubles off the right field wall. Elvis is now 23 years old (he turns 24 in August), and his previously slight frame has filled out a bit. 27 years old is considered to be the average age for MLB players to reach their prime, so Elvis may have even more improving to do. I’m certainly impressed with what I’ve seen from him this year, and I can’t help but think Hamilton’s overshadowing may be a good thing. Elvis has shown some signs that he may be the kind of guy that buys into his own hype. Having a teammate that steals his thunder may just be a good thing.
I don’t want to be a downer, but I’m worried about Adrian Beltre. On Friday, Ron Washington said that he thought Beltre was almost ready to return to playing third base on a daily basis, but his gait around the bases on Sunday told me otherwise. Actually, I’m not worried about his ability to man the hot corner, as he’s shown that he’s more than capable of doing that even when he’s less than 100%. What I’m worried about is his ability to run the bases multiple times a night. There have now been two times in the past week that the Rangers were forced to concede a run because of Beltre’s inability to go all out on the base paths. Luckily, they’ve scored enough runs that his hampered speed hasn’t cost them any wins, but there’s no guarantee that production like that will continue. With a sizeable, early lead in the division, now may be the time to sit Beltre completely for a few more days. I have a feeling that his production and glove may be more necessary later in the season than they are right now.
Elvis has been incredible and Beltre has me worried. Despite the latter, the Rangers have the best record in baseball. With any luck, Hamilton will continue to light the world on fire and take the attention away from these other two stories. No matter what happens, though, we’re in for a heck of a season.