There was no one in the American League, prior to the Friday games, with a higher slugging percentage or total bases than Elvis Andrus. Wil Myers and Yoenis Cespedes were the only players with better numbers than him in the MLB. Only Miguel Sano had a better OPS than the Texas Rangers’ shortstop in the American League, without taking into account, of course, the games played on the recent Friday night.
Andrus had recently concluded a series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in which he managed to produce six hits and out of the six hits, four were extra-base hits and two were home runs, including a homer that reached a distance of 428 feet, making it the longest blast he’s ever produced in his entire career, as Dallas News reported. Taking all of this into account, Andrus now has a total of three home runs in just the first month of the season, and he’s managed a .353/.389/.794 slash line with a team-leading eight extra-base hits.
It was in this series that he hit, for the first time in his nine-year professional career, home runs in consecutive games. It is fair to point out, though, that only 10 games have been played and anyone could sustain a good streak for a little over a week.
Andrus is improving drastically as a batter because he’s pulling the ball more to the left-center field and the left field. FanGraphs.com’s Jeff Sullivan gave some insight into the adjustments the 28-year-old is making to his batting mechanics, including the fact that he’s now kicking his left knee before going for the swing, safe to say, a move that he didn’t tend to do in the past. This has greatly improved the strength he’s hitting the ball with.
Elvis Andrus batting stance in 2015 / Credit: Jeff Sullivan - Fangraphs.com
Elvis Andrus batting stance in 2017 / Credit: Jeff Sullivan - Fangraphs.com
According to Baseball Savant, Andrus was, throughout basically all of last year, below the league’s average exit velocity. This changed completely since the last week of August 2016; he then remarkably improved and stayed above the league’s average in four of the last five weeks of the season. This went on to show how his adjustments were starting to work out for his game.
After going through August without hitting a single homer, he managed to hit four home runs in the last month of the season, an achievement he hadn’t managed in a single month before in his entire career, which also represents the same amount of home runs he had reached before his sudden rise.
This means the Venezuelan now has seven homers in his last 34 games, the same aggregate he’d managed in 2015, equaling as well the amount of times he managed to get the ball off the park in 2012-2014. He ranked in the top-10 in the majors for OPS, batting average and extra-base hits during the last month of 2016’s regular season.
Even so, there are more stats supporting Andrus’s remarkable offensive improvement.
He’d never seen better slash lines than those he completed last year (.302/.362/.439). It was his first season above an .800 OPS and he hit eight home runs for the first time in his entire career, while driving in 69 runs, a personal best on his career as well.
We might be looking at the Texas Rangers’ new slugger.