Texas Rangers: Introducing the new starting shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Back in December, the Texas Rangers gave us all an idea of their future plans at shortstop. Texas named Isiah Kiner-Falefa the starting shortstop for 2021, perhaps signaling the beginning of the end for Elvis Andrus.

This all came to fruition over the weekend when the Rangers dealt Andrus to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for designated hitter Khris Davis, catcher Jonah Heim and right-hander Dane Acker. Andrus has spent the entirety of his 12-year MLB career with the Rangers, and this news is rather bittersweet.

Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, the Texas Rangers future starting shortstop

At the very least, for Rangers fans, the presence of Kiner-Falefa makes this news easier to handle. The 25-year-old former third baseman could be one of the league’s up-and-coming stars, and certainly a piece the Rangers will continue to build around. The future is bright.

In just three seasons of professional baseball, Kiner-Falefa has already won a Gold Glove Award for his stellar work at the hot corner. The uber-athletic and quick-handed young star proved his ability to do some damage at the plate in 2020. Last year, Kiner-Falefa hit .280/.329/.370 with three home runs and eight stolen bases in 58 games.

He already owns a 3.3 dWAR throughout his short career, and the Rangers are counting on his bat to continue its progression. Last year, Kiner-Falefa posted a 0.9 oWAR after posting career-highs in all three of his hitting line stats.

Yes, the Rangers are in a rebuild, so this move makes sense. Last season, Texas finished last in the AL West with a 22-38 record. Since then, Texas has moved off of Andrus, Lance Lynn, and Shin-Soo Choo. The rebuild continues to move ahead full-swing, all under the guidance of newly hired GM, Chris Young.

Texas fans will continue to wait-and-see regarding the future of Kiner-Falefa. Will he continue to blossom into this potential up-and-coming star? Will he have the same impact that Andrus once had on the franchise? Time will tell.

However, the Rangers have enjoyed recent success in their decisions at shortstop. Andrus spent 12 years owning the starting role, slashing a .274/.330/.372 hitting line with 305 career stolen bases and two All-Star Game appearances. Of course, Andrus took over from beloved Michael Young.

Young spent the first 13 years of his career as Texas’ starting shortstop. In that span, he went to seven All-Star Games, won the 2008 Gold Glove Award, while notching 2,375 career hits, 185 home runs, and hitting an even .300 batting average.

The Texas Rangers are hopeful for another 12 or 13 year run at shortstop with Kiner-Falefa. The loss of Andrus is bittersweet, but this story has had a history of recent success in Arlington.