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08/21/2013

Why Elvis Andrus gets a break & the Big Contract curse

Dal_a_elvists_400ARLINGTON, Texas - If he behaved like a horses buttocks, the collective reaction/outrage would be greater, but since signing a fat contract extension Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has not played like Elvis Andrus. 

It helps the Rangers are in first place, and that Andrus is a good guy who owns his struggles. He's not blaming anything or anyone. This is a hard guy to dislike.

Right now, Mr. Andrus is batting a career-low .257 with 14 doubles, four triples, one home run and 44 RBI. He does, however, have 34 stolen bases.

On Wednesday night, Andrus drove in the game-winning run with a sac fly for the Rangers' 45th* win this season against the Astros (that last figure may not be accurate).

No one expected Andrus to be Derek Jeter, but a career-worst season after agreeing to an eight-year, $120 million extension in April? 

Despite sound advice from his good friend Adrian Beltre, who knows first hand what it's like to play "up" to a big contract, nothing was going to prepare Andrus for the "burden" when he signed for the massive cash. 

"I was still making money before, especially from the background I came from," Andrus told me. "(Beltre) told me it was going to happen. I was trying to do too much. I just needed to be better."

He has been better in the second half of the season; he's batting .303 and a more respectable .385 on base percentage.

"I do feel good now and I'm not trying to do too much," he said.

Andrus' forte is defense, where he prevents more runs at shortstop than he generates at the plate. He is only 24, and his offensive numbers should eventually climb. He was never going to be Jeter, but he does look like a guy who can bat .285 with 30 steals and 50 to 60 RBI and a 25 doubles.

 

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