Contrasting Extensions — Andrus and the Panda

Hot off the presses, the Texas Rangers have signed a three year extension with Elvis Andrus worth approximately $14M.  Just a few weeks ago, the team that beat Andrus’ Rangers for the 2010 World Series title extended third baseman Pablo Sandoval for 3 years and $17.15M (and extension that readers of this blog will know was not greeted with positively).  The two extensions go a long way in highlighting the difference between the two organizations.

As I sat down to write about these two extensions, my initial feeling was that the Rangers got a nice bargain against what Andrus was expected to return, while of course I ripped the Sandoval extension, so yet another opportunity to rip Brian Sabean couldn’t be passed up.

Well, that was flat wrong – and far be it from me to stop writing because the numbers didn’t bear out my argument.  Worse still, the numbers show that either (1) the Rangers made a bad decision or (2) Sabean made a good one.  Self flagellation aside, here are the relevant statistics for our two protagonists:

First, Elvis Andrus’ 3 seasons in the majors (ages 20-22):

Season Team G BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
2009 Rangers 145 7.40% 14.20% 0.106 0.267 0.329 0.373 0.322 86 12 3.8 3.4
2010 Rangers 148 9.50% 14.20% 0.036 0.265 0.342 0.301 0.298 77 0.1 8.2 2.2
2011 Rangers 150 8.40% 11.10% 0.082 0.279 0.347 0.361 0.323 96 7 7.7 4.5
Total – – – 443 8.50% 13.10% 0.073 0.271 0.340 0.343 0.314 86 19 20 10.1

And now Pablo Sandoval (ages 21-24):

Season Team G BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR
2008 Giants 41 2.60% 9.10% 0.145 0.345 0.357 0.490 0.361 117 3.4 -0.8 1.2
2009 Giants 153 8.20% 13.10% 0.226 0.330 0.387 0.556 0.396 145 -3.4 0.9 5.5
2010 Giants 152 7.60% 13.10% 0.140 0.268 0.323 0.409 0.314 93 0.3 -2.6 1.8
2011 Giants 117 6.90% 13.50% 0.237 0.315 0.357 0.552 0.379 142 12 -1.5 5.5
Total – – – 463 7.20% 12.90% 0.193 0.307 0.356 0.501 0.362 125 13 -4.1 14

In nearly an identical number of games in the majors, Sandoval has delivered nearly 4 additional WAR.   It will shock nobody to see that Sandoval mashes at the plate while “clogging the base paths”, though Andrus does reach base at decent rate – though in contrast to Sandoval, when Andrus reaches it is almost always merely first base.   Most interestingly, while Andrus is known as a gold glover caliber defender, Sandoval’s defensive numbers nearly approximate Elvis’ contributions in the field thus far – perhaps even allowing for the Panda’s generous proportions his agility and hands are overlooked.

Andrus is two years younger and can certainly improve at the plate, but through three years he hasn’t shown much reason to think he will prove more than league average at the plate – given his defensive ability and a loaded lineup in Arlington around him, Andrus can safely be counted on for 3-5 WAR seasons but not much more barring sudden offensive improvement.  The Panda has proven a masher in the batters box and above average defensively, but comes with serious questions about his ability to control his waistline.   Neither the Rangers nor Giants bought out any free agent seasons, so each team guaranteed money that perhaps it didn’t have to guarantee.  But contrasting the extensions side by side, only Sandoval has a serious chance to outperform his extension – or underperform it if his inner demons return.  I’m not sure that either extension was a great idea, but neither was a disastrously bad one.  Given where the market is right now, ripping Sabean for the Sandoval extension appears hyper critical.  I’m sorry, Brian Sabean.


About Bill Porter

Bill is an aspiring sportswriter (attorney by day) born in Washington DC, raised in New York, and currently living in San Francisco with his wife Kirsten and two spazzy labs, Fletch and Bear. Follow me on Twitter at @wfporter1972
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2 Responses to Contrasting Extensions — Andrus and the Panda

  1. JSP says:

    His advent is still some ways off, but the Rangers also have a shortstop in the Minors who looks extremely promising. Switch-hitter Jurickson Profar hit .286/.390/.493 as the low-A South Atlantic League’s youngest player last year and was ultimately named its MVP. He turns 19 in a couple weeks and supposedly his “makeup” is off the charts.

    • Bill Porter says:

      Yep, agreed. The Rangers will have some interesting decisions — not to say that their window is closing, but Josh Hamilton (31), Nelson Cruz (32), Ian Kinsler (30), and Mike Napoli (31) are all free agents after the 2012 season, not to mention useful pieces like Mike Adams. Michael Young will be 37 when his contract expires at the end of 2013. Assuming Profar makes the jump to AA and continues to progress (and as you point out there is every reason to think that he will), the Rangers would likely be in position to move Andrus (either to 2B or another team), but my question will be whether they will be going through a rebuild or not. Their TV deal will be kicking off all kinds of cash but I just don’t see how they won’t experience a few down years, even given the AL West. I don’t have a lot of confidence in Andrus’s ability to progress offensively, so I would probably give things one more year to win it all, then move him in the offseason where his remaining 2 seasons would fetch some interesting players back — of course, assuming that Profar gives us no reason to think that he won’t be arriving sometime in 2014 or 2015…

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