Aybar, Andrus emerge as premier shortstops

Aybar, Andrus emerge as premier shortstops

ANAHEIM -- Rangers third baseman Michael Young has spent most of his career at shortstop, giving him uncommon expertise in evaluating how the position is played. He looks at teammate Elvis Andrus and the Angels' Erick Aybar as similarly dynamic performers destined to give their clubs quality performance for years to come.

"They're very similar, pretty comparable," Young said. "Both hit at the top of the order and run well. Both play a premium position defensively with good range and arm strength. The sky's the limit for both these guys. Their teams are in real good shape at shortstop, probably for a long time to come."

Andrus, a Venezuela native who turns 22 on Aug. 26, carries 200 pounds on a 6-foot frame. He is batting .296 with 52 runs scored in 73 games. He has 22 steals in 31 attempts and owns a .378 on-base percentage. He has committed nine errors in 73 games, demonstrating Gold Glove talents.

Aybar, coming around to top form after a slow start and a knee injury that sidelined him for a week and a half, is batting .273 with a .336 OBP. The 26-year-old Dominican Republic product, smaller than Andrus at 5-10 and 170 pounds, has 11 steals in 16 attempts and has made nine errors in 68 games, also showing Gold Glove skills.

"Andrus has made huge strides in a short amount of time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Erick took a while, like a Thoroughbred, to get himself under control. You're looking at two of the premier shortstops in all of baseball, certainly at the defensive end.

"They're vital to their teams. During the 10, 11 days Erick was sidelined, we felt that impact. I'm sure Ronny [Washington, Texas manager] would feel the same if Andrus was out for any period of time."