Miguel Andujar and Yankees Quest for 28
Despite a stellar rookie campaign in 2018 from Miguel Andujar, Gio Urshela is poised to be the Yankee third baseman in 2020. Brian Cashman and Aaron Boone have said as much, and furthermore, Urshela has earned it. What does this mean for Miguel Andujar, and where does he fit in with the New York Yankees and their quest for 28?
Numbers Don’t Favor Miguel Andujar
Andujar put up great numbers at the plate his rookie season. He crushed a franchise record 47 doubles, 27 home runs, and 97 RBI for a .297 AVG. The Yankees could not have asked for more from their young third baseman in that regard. Miggy’s defense, is another story. He has been rated one of the worst at his position. Not just for one season, but historically. Since 2002, Andujar has been one of the worst third basemen in the league, possessing a -25 defensive runs saved (DRS) and -24.5 ultimate zone rate per 150 games (UZR/150). To compare, Gio posted a -4 DRS and -3.5 UZR/150 defensive line in his debut season in pinstripes. Gio also put up career numbers at the plate, boasting 34 doubles, 21 home runs, 74 RBI and a .314 AVG.
Of course, statistics can be misleading, and seeing is believing. What we saw on the field from Gio Urshela, was one ridiculously amazing play after another. Diving stops down the line, throwing runners out from the ground, he made it look easy. There’s no doubt Gio held down the hot corner for the Yanks. When you add up the statistics, plus the eye test, and the fact that each of their best seasons at the plate is fairly comparable, Gio is their guy.
In a January 7th, CBS Sports update written by RotoWire Staff Aaron Boone informed Jon Marosi of MLB Network, that Andujar has resumed baseball activities, and “has been throwing and taking ground balls while training in the Dominican Republic during the off-season”. Boone expects a fully healthy Andujar come spring training, and for him to compete with Urshela for the third base job. A short video posted to Twitter by Hector Gomez seems to confirm Boone’s optimism. The 24-second clip shows the third basemen working on his footwork, fielding ground balls and making a few strong throws to second base.
— Héctor Gómez (@hgomez27) January 8, 2020
The Next Step
Time will tell how the 24-year-old Andujar can best aid the team in their quest for 28. It’s possible that the New York Yankees could attempt to package him in a deal for Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher, Josh Hader. This may prove to be problematic for the Yankees with Andujar still recovering from right labrum surgery. Will he be the same batter he was prior to injury? Can he improve with the glove? These are the variables drastically decreasing his trade value to prospective teams.
Even if Andujar’s fielding does not improve enough to play third, his bat is still a huge asset. The best case scenario is for Miggy to back up third base and to become the regular designated hitter. This will hopefully show the rest of the league that he is still the hitter that we saw in 2018. If he demonstrates improved fielding when giving Urshela a rest, that is a bonus. Boone has also expressed a willingness to work Andujar out at other positions, such as outfield and first base. These are the factors that can potentially drive up his value as the July trade deadline approaches. No matter what, Miguel Andujar appears to be a key piece in the Yankee’s quest for 28.