It was a routine play, pulled off with such balance, power and elegance that it was anything but routine. And when the RoughRiders' 19-year-old shortstop completed turning his half of the double-play, I turned to Frisco play-by-play voice Scott Garner and said:
"The first time he steps on the field in Arlington, he'll be the best-fielding shortstop in Texas Rangers' history."
That was May 21, 2008. On June 3, 2009 Andrus made me regret the slight. Rangers Schmangers, the 20-year-old is already one of the best shortstops in all of baseball.
Yes, he's that good.
Never mind that he's hitting .285, stealing timely bases, making the simple plays and has only eight errors in almost 250 chances. It's that his spectacular plays are even more spectacuclar than anyone anticipated.
For example, were you watching last night?
In a tight, tense 4-2 Rangers' victory over the Yankees, Andrus made three amazing defense plays. He went deep into the hole to throw out Robinson Cano, barehanded a chopper and threw out Cano on the run in the 8th and almost got another out with a leaping, twisting grab of a high hopper and throw from the hole in one seamless move that would've made Plays of the Year.
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Bless Michael Young, but he makes none of those plays.
How do you survive injuries to Josh Hamilton and the almost certain release of your No. 2 starter? With a shortstop that turns hits into outs and with a closer (Frankie Francisco) that turns drama into saves.
Don't know exactly how this Rangers' season is going to evolve. Don't know if Scott Feldman - who didn't pitch well enough to earn a starting job in Spring Training - can keep this up. Don't know if I believe how quiet and empty new Yankees Stadium is.
What I do know is that it feels damn good to finally have one of "those shortstops" on our team.