Opinion: Elvis Andrus isn’t the Braves answer at shortstop

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The Braves made the gut-wrenching decision to move on from their All-Star shortstop this offseason. To make things even more uneasy, it doesn’t look like they have a clear backup plan. Orlando Arcia is on the roster, but he proved last season that he’s much better served as a utility piece, and they appear to have a lot of faith in the potential of Vaughn Grissom. However, Grissom struggled mightily at the plate to end 2022, and his defense at second base was even shakier. Asking him to fill the shoes of Dansby Swanson almost feels unfair. Unfortunately, there aren’t many inspiring options for the Braves to turn to on the free agent market.

Along with Dansby Swanson, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts have all linked lucrative deals elsewhere. The Braves will not be able to successfully replace Swanson’s production at the position. Whichever way they turn, there will be a drop off, but there is one free agent remaining that could at least soften the blow, and Jake recently discussed him as a possibility in his recent article about three options that could replace Dansby Swanson.

Elvis Andrus is coming off a resurgent season that began with Oakland and ended with the Chicago White Sox. He posted 3.5 fWAR, blasting 17 homers, swiping 18 bags, and recording a .707 OPS. He’s the best thing left on the market, and he also has ties with Ron Washington from their days together with the Texas Rangers, where Andrus was an All-Star in 2010 and 2012.

It makes sense why the Braves would be interested. Arcia is nothing more than a backup, and despite the excitement surrounding Grissom, I’m not sure how the organization can truly believe that he’s 100% ready to begin the season as the starting shortstop. He never even played in AAA, struggled defensively, and hit .220 with a .613 OPS over his last 27 games in the majors. Bringing in a veteran to help bridge the gap is a smart move. Unfortunately, I don’t see Andrus as an upgrade over what the Braves currently have.

Andrus had a resurgent 2022, but absolutely nothing suggests it will be sustainable. Before this year, Andrus hadn’t had a season with more than 2.0 fWAR since 2017, and players don’t generally start ascending once they get into their mid-30s. His Baseball Savant page also suggests severe regression is in line offensively.

31st percentile Avg Exit Velocity

22nd percentile in Hard Hit %

27th percentile in xSLG

22nd percentile in xOBA

46th percentile in xBA

18th percentile in Barrel %

Andrus is a well below average offensive player. His 17 homers this year were the second most of his entire career and only the third time he’s posted double-digit homers in a single season. There’s next to no chance he replicates that kind of power, and I would almost guarantee he finishes 2023 with an OPS well below .700.

At this point in his career, Andrus is a solid defensive shortstop that is below average offensively. The Braves already have that on their roster in Orlando Arcia. If the Braves want to upgrade, Andrus isn’t the answer. They should just ride with what they already have in Arcia and Grissom, then spend whatever money they do have on bolstering left field.

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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