If you saw these three stat lines for 2011, which player would you be targeting on draft day?
Player A – .279, 10 HR, 59 RBI, 71 R and 30 SB over 556 AB
Player B – .304, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 34 R and 24 SB over 224 AB
Player C – .279, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 96 R and 37 SB over 587 AB
Obviously, no one would be surprised to find out that Player B is Dee Gordon. While he brings his own risks to the table (aka an inability to draw a walk), if you are looking for pure speed from the position, there is no one with a higher upside.
It may surprise some of you to find out that Player A is the Angels’ Erick Aybar while Player C is the much more highly sought-after Elvis Andrus. Why do I say highly sought-after? Because according to Mock Draft Central, Andrus has an ADP of 44.45 while Aybar is going nearly 100 picks later at 142.74 (incidentally, Gordon has an ADP of 141.08).
My question to owners is what exactly does Andrus bring to the table that necessitates selecting him in the fourth round, and that much before a player with a nearly identical skill set?
You want to point to the better lineup? Well, the Angels added Albert Pujols, so that argument is virtually moot now. Considering he spent the bulk of his time hitting atop the lineup (237 at bats leading off, 133 hitting second), there are plenty of reasons to think that he is going to close the gap in the runs scored department.
Yes, Andrus is going to hit second in a loaded lineup, but what has he done in his first three seasons to make you think that he is going to be anything different than he has already been? He brings little power to the table, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Fly ball rates of 23.0, 19.5 and 21.1 percent tell us that (he's at 21.1 percent for his career).
He also isn’t likely to raise his average over the .280 level. Sure, he makes great contact (13.1 percent strikeout rate for his career), but his BABIP has also been extremely consistent:
- 2009 – .305
- 2010 – .317
- 2011 – .312
So why would we expect anything different now? Is there the potential for him to produce a higher mark, thanks to his speed? Absolutely, especially at just 23 years old, but at 100 picks higher than a player with the same exact skills? I don’t think so.
Want to hang your hat on his stolen bases? Granted, there is the upside for more considering that he has consistently fallen off in the second half (first half/second half):
- 2009 – 16/17
- 2010 – 23/9
- 2011 – 26/11
Maybe there is something to that, but maybe not. One of the ways the Rangers may try to keep him fresh and productive through the season is to reel him in in the early going. So, maybe he can be more consistent, but that doesn’t mean the numbers are going to suddenly jump to 50-plus SB.
I am a huge fan of Andrus, and someone that I would love to own. However, the price tag to get him seems extraordinarily high, especially when I am projecting the following line for 2012:
.285 (168-590), 7 HR, 65 RBI, 95 R, 38 SB, .323 BABIP, .354 OBP, .388 SLG
In other words, I am anticipating more of the same from him. Why would I want to pass up on players like Ryan Zimmerman, Hunter Pence, Eric Hosmer or even Michael Bourn in order to select Andrus? It makes even less sense when I know I can “reach” for Aybar, and get him 80 picks later (instead of 100).
Andrus is a great player, but there is absolutely no reason to reach for him early in the draft. There are other options at the position, and you would have to bypass too good talent to get him.
What are your thoughts? Would you draft Andrus in the fourth or fifth round? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: