Texas Rangers Shortstop Positional Breakdown 2020

Elvis Andrus stands alone at the Rangers SS position, but for how long?

To continue our positions series with the team, we break down the Texas Rangers shortstop options so far on the roster:

On the Current 40-Man Roster:

Elvis Andrus, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Anderson Tejeda

2019 At a Glance

The most important ability is availability – a trite statement that is often underappreciated.  Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus started in 146 of the team’s contests in 2019, a total unmatched by his teammates.  In fact, Elvis had never even been on the IL prior to the 2018 season.  Something is to be said of this level of durability, especially at the shortstop position.  However, the job isn’t done on durability alone.

In years past, one may look at a player’s batting average and surmise the caliber of talent a player possesses.  With today’s analytics, we aren’t so easily fooled.  Andrus batted .275 in 2019, with identical splits vs. LHP and vs. RHP.  At a basic level, this doesn’t look terribly bad;  unfortunately, the peripherals paint a different picture.  With an on-base percentage of .313 and a slugging percentage of .393, the bottom line displayed a mere 76 wRC+, which simply isn’t enough. 

On the other hand, Andrus had yet another season with 30+ stolen bases.  Simplified, that equates to 31 of his 165 base hits ending with him advancing to second on top of the 27 total doubles he did hit.  He struck out less than 15% of the time and had a fantastic March-April with a .361/.425/.583 batting line.  Outside of May and July, Elvis stayed consistent.  While the ceiling wasn’t very high, the floor wasn’t very low. 

Additionally, Elvis became an American citizen in 2019, an accomplishment he was quite proud of:

Future Competition

The Rangers’ 40-Man roster was due in late November to protect prospects from the Rule-5 Draft in mid-December. The only dedicated Rangers shortstop outside of Andrus to be added was Dominican prospect Anderson Tejeda. Tejeda played a very limited season in 2019 due to a shoulder injury in May. Prior to the injury, Tejeda attempted his hand at switch-hitting. He produced a .260/.269/.320 batting line vs. LHP and .222/.333/.417 vs. RHP. One would believe Tejeda joins newly acquired OF Steele Walker in AA Frisco upon completing Spring Training, but AAA Nashville is a possibility.

Rangers SS Prospect Anderson Tejeda

Final Thoughts

Unless Elvis Andrus completely tanks, we must believe the job is his. No one in the pipeline is remotely close to playing on the MLB level, but that’s not to say they won’t be. The biggest change we could see in 2020 is Elvis’ positioning in the batting order declining. That is, at least until he can start producing more from each at-bat. Make no mistake, Elvis Andrus is as much a Texas Ranger as apple pie is American. He’s been a constant in a land of constant change. But at 32 years old, he’s playing a younger, quicker man’s position. Seeing as the Rangers were unable to land a big fish at 3B, could we ever see Elvis at the hot corner? Time will tell.

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