Andrus hopes to end ROY drought
Rangers look to land first top rookie since 1974
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers haven't had one of their players win American League Rookie of the Year since 1974.That was the season that first baseman Mike Hargrove beat out infielders Bucky Dent, George Brett and Rick Burleson, with teammate Jim Sundberg finishing fifth. Every other AL team has had at least one Rookie of the Year winner since then, including the Brewers, who have since moved to the National League. The Rangers are hoping that shortstop Elvis Andrus can break that drought when the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Award is announced on Monday.
"There's a tendency to grade Elvis on a curve because of his youth, but the bottom line is he was one of the best shortstops in the game, regardless of age," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He made an impact for us from Day 1 with his defense, helping change the club's identity in the process, and grew into a tough out offensively as the year went on."It's a strong year for rookies in the AL, but Elvis is as deserving as anyone. Our season is markedly different if he hadn't performed at that level." Andrus was the Rangers' Opening Day shortstop this season at age 20, despite not having played above Double-A. The Rangers moved Gold Glove shortstop Michael Young to third base to make room for Andrus, who came to the Major Leagues with a reputation for being an outstanding defensive player. Andrus hit .267 with 72 runs scored, 17 doubles, eight triples, six home runs and 33 stolen bases in 145 games and 480 at-bats. He was the only AL rookie to have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, although that is not a prerequisite for the award. Defensively, Andrus was second in the league among shortstops in range factor with 5.02 chances per nine innings and was tied for third in double plays. The Rangers ended up finishing in second place in the AL West with a record of 87-75, only their second winning season in 10 years. Andrus' primary competition comes from a group of pitchers that includes A's reliever Andrew Bailey, who was 6-3 with 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA. Three starters should also get consideration: Rick Porcello (14-9, 3.96) of the Tigers, Jeff Niemann (13-6, 3.94) of the Rays and Ricky Romero (13-9, 4.30) of the Blue Jays. Other position players who could get votes include White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham, who hit .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs in 103 games and 378 at-bats, and Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold, who hit .279 with 15 home runs and 45 RBIs in 104 games and 358 at-bats. The award is voted on by two members of the Baseball Writers' Association from each of the 14 league cities. The voters list three players -- first, second and third place. The Rangers haven't had a player receive as much as a third-place vote since Ian Kinsler received one in 2006. Mark Teixeira was the last Rangers player to receive a first-place vote when he finished fifth in 2003. The Athletics have had six players win Rookie of the Year since 1974, the most of any AL team. No other team has had more than three.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.