Three years ago, Miguel Andujar was on top of the world. Having built a minor league reputation as a quick bat and a shaky glove, “Miggy” proved out his scouting report at the big league level in 2018. Things have been rocky since then for the now 26-year old, but with injuries to Rougned Odor and Gio Urshela, Andujar now has a chance to redeem himself.
In his 2018 rookie season, Andujar posted a .297/.328/.527 slash line with 27 HR and 92 RBI. He outhit his much more highly touted teammate Gleyber Torres and became a frontrunner for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Ultimately, Andujar lost out to Los Angeles Angels pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and waffling members of the BBWAA. But, Andujar’s bat left a major impression and big things were expected of the third baseman in 2019.
The Fall of Miggy
As anyone everyone knows, things don’t always go as planned. Just 12 games into the 2019 season, Andujar’s year was over. A torn labrum in his right shoulder was the culprit and season-ending surgery was the cure. His OPS at the time was only .271.
Prior to the 2019 season, the Yankees inked great-glove, light-hitting Gio Urshela to a minor league contract. Urshela flashed the leather at the Major League level with the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays, but he wasn’t able to attain the same level with his bat.
Andujar’s shoulder injury created an opportunity for Urshela, and in a season reminiscent of Scott Brosius’ 1998 campaign, Urshela took full advantage. He opened more than a few eyes with his spectacular defense at the hot corner, but it was his .314/.355/.534 splits that had scouts scratching their heads. Additionally, Urshela slugged 21 HR and drove in 74 runs in 442 at-bats.
There’s an old saying, in sports, that goes, “you never lose your job to an injury.” However, that line never took into account losing it if someone takes it from you. Wally Pipp knew what that was like with Lou Gehrig and, in more modern times, Drew Bledsoe can tell you the story of Tom Brady.
Urshela entered the 2020 season as the team’s third baseman and the Yankees started looking for other positions for Andujar. Leftfield seemed the logical spot for him and Andujar went to work. Yet the pandemic had other plans.
Spring Training shut down early due to COVID-19. And, with no resumption of play until the third week of July, Andujar had little time to get his timing back at the plate and to work on improving at third base, as well as learn a new position. It showed in his lack of production.
Bouncing back and forth between the Major League club and the alternate site, Andujar posted a .632 OPS and was a non-factor for the season. And, since there the minor league season was canceled, there was a lack of “real” baseball to partake in.
To work on his game in the off-season, Andujar played 10 games for the Toros in the Dominican Winter League. He showed some promise, hitting .300 in 40 at-bats, with four doubles and five RBI.
Though Andujar doesn’t walk much, he doesn’t strike out much either. He K’ed in only 16% of 600+ plate appearances in 2018 and struck out just four times in his 42 winter plate appearances. His contact percentage would be beneficial to a team that has a number of players with high K-rates.
Miggy Comes Home
Miggy’s 2021 comeback was slowed by a nerve issue in his hand during Spring Training, but he started to hit well when Scranton/Wilkes-Barre opened their season on May 4.
All of the above factors spell out a tremendous opportunity for Miggy. Though Urshela is expected to avoid a trip to the injured list, Andujar should see some at-bats. And, with outfielder Clint Frazier scuffling at the plate, Andujar could take time away from the redhead with a red-hot streak.
Andujar hasn’t swung a bat in a Major League uniform since Sept. 13, 2020, but as long as manager Aaron Boone pens his name into the lineup, Andujar can earn his redemption and reclaim a spot on the team.