Joseph Pytleski

(Photo Courtesy Dirk Hansen)

As a fantasy manager you know as well as I do that we tend to fall in love with certain players who, no matter how well or poorly they play, we are all in. It defies logic but we will not listen to reason on these guys because we’re overly optimistic, we won’t listen to reason, we’ll buy high, and do whatever we can to get a guy this guy on our rosters.

Conversely, there are those other guys that we just cannot stand for fantasy. No matter where they rank or what their end-of-year numbers are they are perennially on our do-not-draft list. As we continue our series on risky hitters for 2014, I was overjoyed to select one of my favorite all-time hate list members: playing SS for the Texas Rangers, Elvis Andrus.

There is a caveat to this of course because Andrus plays one of the most offensively-starved positions on the field. Our current 2014 projections have the average SS producing a .264 BA, 10 HR, 13 SB, 61 R, and 50 RBI. Obviously we’re asking much of those who play there and often what managers are hoping is that a player in the middle infield not kill you in any particular category. So, let’s look and see if Andrus is worth his current top 5 SS ranking.

First, the positive: Andrus is only 26 and will turn 27 during the 2nd half of the season, which means you are entering his peak production years. He has a career K-rate of 13.4% and has a stellar career contact-rate of 87.6% (4.7% career swinging-strike rate). He’s also never hit below .265, had an OBP below .328 (last season), and has averaged 33 SBs/season during his 5-year career (despite a putrid 69% success rate on the basepaths). He continues to hit atop a good lineup (TEX was #8 overall in runs produced in 2013) in a offense-inducing ballpark in Arlington. Chris Cwik does a nice job explaining Andrus’ upside.

Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends for Elvis. Despite his speed, he walks at a below average rate (career 8.2%), which coupled with a poor SB success rate and GB% of 55% does not help in the OBP department. Last year saw his wOBA drop to an abysmal .296, and a below average wRC+ of 91. He offers little to no power (18 HR career), he won’t drive in many runs, and in my opinion is the definition of a better real-life baseball player than fantasy player.

It’s true, he won’t “kill” you except in HR. He is still relatively young on a good offense, and could give you 30 SBs and approach 90 Runs. If he suddenly taps into some double-digit HR power, I’ll eat some crow here later. However, for my money and similar production in 2014 I’ll pass on Elvis and go with Everth Cabrera. If I’ve already taken care of speed on my roster then I’d even wait longer and snag Jed Lowrie (just stay healthy) or Xander Bogaerts (redraft only as he’ll undoubtedly be snatched up in a dynasty format) later in the draft.



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