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):
|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):
|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.