Chad Pinder makes strong case to supplant Elvis Andrus at A’s shortstop

Elvis Andrus might want his ol’ pal Mitch Moreland to take his sweet time coming back from the 10-day injured list. At this rate, it might be hard to keep Chad Pinder from taking over more of Andrus’ at-bats at shortstop once Moreland returns.

On May 14, Pinder returned as a pinch-hitter from his 35-game absence due to a knee injury. That same game in Minnesota, which resulted in a 6-1 win over the Twins, Moreland was removed for his final at-bat. Moreland hasn’t played since, while dealing with the inflamed costochondral junction of his left rib. 

Moreland’s absence has allowed Jed Lowrie to take over the designated hitter role in four of the past six games to rest his balky knee, letting Pinder play second base. But eventually Moreland will be back in the DH rotation, moving Lowrie back to the primary second baseman and leaving Pinder as a utility man. 

Unless … stop me if you’ve heard this before … Pinder gets a crack as a regular shortstop. Not saying “everyday shortstop” because Lowrie will need time to rest his surgically repaired knee and A’s manager Bob Melvin clearly still trusts Andrus.

A’s fans are all about Pinder, though.

After the Toronto Blue Jays series in early May — when it became painfully obvious that the A’s should have shelled out money to sign Marcus Semien — Andrus strung together hits in nine straight games. But Andrus is 1-for-12 in the past three contests and still owns MLB’s worst on-base percentage (.223), slugging (.226), OPS (.449) and fourth-worst batting average (.178) among qualified players. 

Pinder has started two games at shortstop since his return while maintaining the same level of production he showed to start the year.

It’s apparent Melvin wants to keep Pinder in the lineup, as he started at designated hitter Saturday. Andrus is savvy and smart, but how long of a leash can he have? 

The gulf between his offensive talent and Pinder’s seems to grow by the day. Perhaps the A’s still see value in having Andrus’ glove in there everyday over Pinder, who still has to prove he can be an MLB shortstop. But Andrus hasn’t looked like the same player since back problems cropped up last season.

Back in 2019, he slashed .275/.313/.393 with 12 homers, 72 RBI and 31 steals in 147 games. The A’s would love to have anything close to that Elvis.

Jump to 2020 and he dropped to .194/.252/.330 with three dingers, seven RBI and three stolen bases in 29 games. Somehow he has managed to put together a worse slash line this season.

Andrus will surely get mobbed the next time he hits a dinger, because it might be one of the last homers of his career. The baseball isn’t getting any easier to hit, pitchers are getting nastier and Father Time ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Pinder? He’s got plenty more in the bat this season and beyond.

Forget “swipe right” It’s time for the A’s to finally “swipe up” and “super like” Pinder.