It wasn’t so long ago that the Texas Rangers thought they had enough depth in the middle infield that one of the prevailing thoughts was that they’d have to trade one just to provide the playing time that the others would need.
These days, however, they’re just scuffling to find a viable candidate at short.
But what happened to the whole Jurickson Profar-Elvis Andrus conundrum? Well, as it turns out, MLB baseball is pretty hard even for prospects with all-world talent and upside, and the learning curve has really been more like a wall for the young Profar after some initial success.
Despite going 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored in the Rangers’ victory over the surging Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, the fact is that he is still a .641 OPS batter through 287 PA on the year, and had hit for a paltry .231/.308/.316 triple-slash since the All-Star break.
At -0.1 fWAR since the Midsummer Classic, the short of it is that the Rangers can’t afford to keep giving the youngster at-bats — not while every win matters.
… which is to say that Andrus’ recent injury couldn’t come at a worse time. After all, he was showing his All-Star form again, posting a .314/.379/.397 triple-slash with a team-leading 16 steals and a 1.5 fWAR that ranks second on the squad.
His ailing back, however, has prevented him from playing in the last three games, forcing the Rangers into putting someone in action who is simply doing more harm than good because there just isn’t any depth at shortstop.
And while the Rangers certainly didn’t anticipate themselves being in the situation where the little-known Jim Adduci would be starting at DH as he did on Tuesday, those are the breaks they’ve been given now as the injury bug is biting hard at the wrong time after Leonys Martin was also given a day off from starting duties.
So Profar is at a crossroads here. He might be struggling to really find his footing in the bigs, but the Rangers have little choice but to hope that he does.
If there was ever a time to show that he can carry his two-hit, one walk performance from Tuesday into something more sustained than what Texas has seen thus far … there’s no better opportunity than the present.