Rangers to Start Isiah Kiner-Falefa at Shortstop in 2021

Texas Rangers catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Photo by Albert Pena/CSM/Shutterstock (10264964aw)

The Texas Rangers announced on Tuesday that they are making a switch at shortstop for the 2021 MLB season. According to Rangers manager Chris Woodward, 2020’s Gold Glove Award winner Isiah Kiner-Falefa will be starting at the position moving forward. This is especially interesting because Kiner-Falefa spent years playing the catcher position.

The last season’s starting shortstop, Elvis Andrus, will be used in the infield, where he’ll be expected to play whatever position the team needs on any given night.

According to Woodward, the organization wants to see whether Kiner-Falefa has what it takes to be a long-term shortstop for the franchise. “I think it comes down to, do we believe in Kiner as a shortstop? I want to see it,” said Woodward. “I want to answer that question. Can he handle the position? I believe he can.”

Texas most likely made the decision after seeing Andrus struggle in 2020. The veteran managed to play only 25 games last season due to back problems, and wasn’t efficient when called upon. He finished the year with a .194 batting average while contributing only three home runs and seven RBIs.

Kiner-Falefa, on the other hand, had a pretty good showing in what was his third season in the MLB. The 25-year-old played 42 games on third base and made 15 starts at SS, batting .280 with three homers and 10 RBIs.

There is a chance that Texas will shuffle its second base rotation as well. Woodward told the media that second-year player Nick Solak will get a look at second base as well, and will compete for the starting spot with Rougned Odor.