With the season a few months away, what has to break right for the Rangers to contend again in 2015?
What if Elvis Andrus can finally become the offensive player the Rangers have hoped he'd become? What if he can get back to running the bases with controlled aggression and steal 40 bases? What if he actually comes to spring training in shape and becomes an elite defensive shortstop again?
After the way his 2014 season went in one of his worst big-league seasons across the board, it'd be a welcomed development.
The Rangers' problems in 2014 were too many to list here, but their lack of offensive punch due to injuries was a big one. Second on the list of offensive problems was Andrus, who was one of the few healthy Rangers last year but regressed into an average MLB shortstop, at the very best.
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Andrus didn't do much well in 2014. He hit a career-worst .263 with a career-low .314 on-base percentage. He also led the league with 15 failed stolen-base attempts. He did have a career-high 35 doubles, which was one of the few bright spots of his season.
If Andrus can have a bounce-back season, and he's still only 26 years old, which is hard to remember at times, it will be a huge development for a Rangers lineup that desperately needs production from him. It'll be interesting to see where new manager Jeff Banister hits him in the lineup considering Ron Washington always insisted on hitting him second in the lineup despite his tendency to instantly kill rallies.