When Miguel Andujar came back off the Injured List just a week ago after slightly tearing his labrum in his right shoulder, many folks speculated if it was the right move by the Yankees. However, they eased everyone’s minds when they insisted Andujar could play through it and seemed strong and ready to contribute this season, further insisting hitting wouldn’t be the problem but throwing instead.
So when Andujar’s hitting became an obvious problem, going 1 for 27 in his last seven games since coming off the IL, the Yankees pulled back the reins, sent him back to the IL, and concluded that this torn labrum was more of an issue than they thought. On Wednesday night after some contemplation and talking with members of his family, Andujar decided to have season-ending surgery; a sad end to what was a sad start to the 2019 season for Miguel.
Fans have come to love and support “Miggy” after what was, in our minds, a 2018 season deserving of the Rookie of the Year Award. Many defended him when the Yanks were thought to be seeking Manny Machado. He was arguably our best and most consistent hitter last year, breaking the record for the most doubles by a Yankee rookie. It was fun to watch him play and we were excited to see his encore. I think it’s safe to say we all feel bad for our Miggy.
However, I’m also going to say something that means no offense to him and with all due respect to Miggy Doubles:
We aren’t going to miss him all that much.
Now, I don’t say this as a detriment to Andujar’s talent. I say this more as a testament to our deep roster. If this was last year, the Yankees would have been in trouble. The Yankees would have lost their best hitter. The Yankees may not have been where they were at the end of last season if it wasn’t for our Rookie of the Year. And the Yankees may have traded for Manny Machado, giving up top prospects for what we know now would have been just a rental because the Yanks were never going to pay Machado the big bucks.
But this year is not last year. Some of you might be thinking, Yea, this year is worse, what are you talking about? We have so many injuries, we can most definitely use him. Of course, we could use a healthy Miguel Andujar during what has been an injury-plagued season for this team, but most of the injuries have and will be short term. We are expected to get our whole team back, with the exception of Andujar. And with our whole team back, I don’t think we’ll miss a beat without him, because we have a “replacement” whose name could produce some beats of his own.
DJ LeMahieu, or for short, DJLM, which the Baseball World claimed as a GREAT pick up by the Yankees is quickly becoming our most valuable player in this lineup. So far, the Baseball World is right. DJLM currently leads the Yankees in (Baseball Reference)WAR with 1.2, he’s batting .322 and his defense has been nothing but gold glove worthy. In 4 out of the last 5 seasons, he’s batted over .300, and won a batting title in 2016. Last year alone, he had a WAR of 3.0 (compared to Andujar’s 2.2), 32 doubles, 15 home runs and 62 RBI’s (all of this with two IL stints).
Yes, compared to Andujar’s 27 home runs, a whopping 47 doubles, and 92 RBI’s, DJLM’s numbers don’t seem to add up. You’re right. They don’t. Where will those home runs and RBI’s come from this year if DJLM can’t produce at that clip? We may have a slew of injuries, but we also have two healthy guys to pick up the slack we didn’t have all season long in 2018: Gary Sanchez and Luke Voit.
Sanchez was a shell of himself last year and Luke Voit didn’t enter the fray until August. These players in a full season at full health will rack up the home runs, RBI’s, and extra-base hits LeMahieu may lack. DJLM will bat for average, get his singles and doubles, and be the contact hitting guy Andujar brought to the line up every day. Sanchez and Voit, and others when they return will do the rest. We don’t need every guy up and down the line up to mash home runs. We tried that last year, won 100 games, and then lost in the playoffs because we didn’t have guys like DJLM who this year is hitting at a .471 clip with RISP and .455 with two outs and RISP. The Yankees as a whole last year hit .253 with RISP and just .239 with two outs and RISP, and it was the main reason they lost the Division Series against the Boston Red Sox.
If you want a solid, proven hitter who makes contact, hits for average, and doesn’t shy away from the big moment – Andujar’s bat disappeared in the playoffs last year plus he’s still so young – and is clutch in clutch situations, you want DJLM in your line up.
Let’s also not forget defense. There’s no denying both Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu can handle the hot corner in a way Andujar never will, so he was ticketed for a DH role most of the year anyway. And until Urshela shows signs of slowing down, his bat and defense are making this an even easier decision for the Yankees, while also keeping the DH spot open for Giancarlo Stanton, Kendrys Morales, and others.
All that to say, this is the year we can afford to lose Miguel Andujar. Even when Urshela’s bat descends back from the heavens and proclaims mortal status once again, we still have DJ, and we still have Didi Gregorius (yay). Once Didi is back, DJLM will play third, Gleyber Torres will slide back over to second and Didi will take short. With that seamless transition, a much better defense, and a fourth infielder in the Yankee icon Urshela plus veteran Troy Tulowitzki (remember him?), we are prepared to send Miggy off with well wishes and speedy recovery without much thought. We will miss the person in Andujar, but we won’t miss the player.
And throughout it all, even Manny Machadoless, Brian Cashman continues to win at life. He still somehow comes out looking like a genius with Urshela & DJLM, he still somehow struck gold, while saving gold, and he still somehow walks around with the power to sing, Oops I Did it Again, by Brittany Spears with no shame because he literally did it again.