For the most part, Elvis Andrus is doing what he typically does: stealing bases, scoring runs and not striking out a whole lot. So what is he doing outside of the top 10 in Fantasy value among shortstops, both in standard Rotisserie and Head-to-Head formats?
That's the question Scott White, Adam Aizer and I tackled on the Leaderboards segment of Monday's edition of Fantasy Baseball Today. Andrus is on pace for his fifth straight season with 80-plus runs and his fifth season in six years with 30-plus steals, so it's a bit perplexing and surprising to see him rank this low. As we pointed out in the segment, part of Andrus' relatively low standing has to do with the bunchiness of the rankings, but two other factors stand out.
The part of Andrus' stat line that looks out of whack is his 23 RBI, as he has knocked in 60 or more runs in each of the last three seasons. It would be easy to point an accusing finger at ice-cold Shin-Soo Choo, who has been getting on base at a .270 clip since May 26, but it wouldn't be entirely correct. Andrus' RBI pace prior to May 26 (12 in 50 games) was nearly identical to his pace since then (11 in 47 games), even though Choo had a .441 OBP during that earlier stretch.
Choo's season-to-date .354 OBP is subpar for him, but it's a slight upgrade over the .344 mark put up by the Rangers' primary leadoff hitter in 2013, Ian Kinsler. So far, then, Andrus' RBI problem seems to be independent of Choo. The fact that Andrus is hitting just .167 with runners in scoring position, as opposed to his .283 career mark, would seem to have more to do with his sagging Fantasy value than Choo's slump.
Of course, it doesn't help Andrus' value if Choo doesn't snap out of his funk, and there don't seem to be any signs of that happening. Choo told the Dallas Morning News that his ankle has been improving, yet something still seems to be very wrong, as he is slugging just .257 during his 48-game skid. His ground ball and strikeout rates are slightly up from his norms, but mostly, he has just been extraordinarily passive. According to Baseball-Reference.com, 34.4 percent of Choo's total strikes have been called strikes, whereas his typical rate (as well as the major league norm) is just under 28 percent.
Andrus can fix some of what's been wrong with his season with better performances -- and most likely, better luck -- in RBI situations. Choo's future is harder to project, but it would seem to depend largely on him taking a more aggressive approach. The aforementioned Dallas Morning News report even cites how passivity has crept into all aspects of Choo's game this year. And if Choo doesn't rebound, that limits Andrus' chances of being a top five Fantasy shortstop over the rest of the season.