ANAHEIM -- Elvis Andrus of the Rangers and the Angels' Erick Aybar share more than initials. They're two of a kind at shortstop. Both are young, athletic, dynamic game-changers destined to be American League West rivals -- and share All-Star Game clubhouses -- for years to come.
"I really like to watch him play," Andrus, who turns 23 next month, said of Aybar, 27. "He's exciting. And he's smart. He can do it all -- especially this year. He's hitting for power, consistent, always having fun. I like it when he makes a great play -- except when it's on me.
"You always like to compete against guys like that. He wants to win, and so do I."
The show the dueling acrobats put on is frequently something to behold, Andrus and Aybar trying to outdo each other with their defensive gymnastics while jump-starting their offenses with multiple talents.
At this stage, Aybar has one edge with his emerging power: seven homers, two more than his previous career high, to three by Andrus. Aybar is slugging .441 compared with .345 by Andrus. Aybar is hitting .287, Andrus .280.
Both have impressive success rates on the bases. Andrus has 28 steals in 32 attempts, while Aybar is 20-for-24. Defensively? Too close to call and a matter of taste. Andrus is smoother, Aybar more electric.
"He's really good," Aybar, from the Dominican Republic, said of his Venezuelan rival. "It's a lot of fun to play against a guy like that. You really have to concentrate and focus."