The prospect lists are all out by now – BP, Keith Law, Fangraphs – and though there are countless disagreements, on one point all seem to agree: namely, Jurickson Profar is the best prospect in baseball. With the production we’ve seen over the past few years of top prospects Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, many baseball fans are clamoring for the Rangers to promote Profar now and trade Elvis Andrus for any of a number of packages (the most optimistic fans would have the Rangers bringing back young slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Miami or the other uber-prospect in baseball – Oscar Taveras – from the Cardinals).
I have not seen Profar play, but even if I had I would defer to the experts who see him as an all-star SS in the making. What I can’t understand is how quickly people are moving on from Elvis Andrus. He broke into the league in 2009 as the Rangers starting SS at the age of 19, and to date he has played four full seasons before age 24. Andrus clearly is known more for his glove and speed than his bat, but to date Andrus has posted a 275/342/353 slash line while stealing 123 bags and playing SS about as well as anyone in baseball. His 13.9 fWAR puts him in a group with Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes in competition for the 2nd best SS overall in baseball behind Troy Tulowitzki over that period.
So why doesn’t Andrus get more love? Clearly that he derives a significant portion of his value in the field and on the bases hurts, but his 14 HRs and .078 career ISO are likely culprits as well. But this idea that Andrus can’t hit is a mirage. For the sake of some historical perspective, I pulled data from Baseball-reference.com on SS production in my lifetime (which extends back to 1972, for those that don’t know me). The full link is here, but putting aside Andrus’ skills as a defender and base runner, here is how Andrus stacks up against two other SS you may know:
Jurickson Profar may be a multiple MVP in waiting, and may have a much better career than Andrus. And Elvis Andrus 2012 has limitations as a batter that he needs to improve upon. But let’s not lose focus – Andrus is one of the best SS in baseball, and he is off to one of the great starts to a career in the last 40 years. Before we start trading him for prospects we might focus on the fact that early in his career, he is tracking along with some of the best that have ever played SS.