The rise and fall of Miguel Andujar has been nothing short of tragic. Not long ago, he was viewed as a bright piece of the Yankees future. He was our young slugging third baseman, whose defensive flaws were viewed as room for improvement. And today he is viewed as a position-less player. Nothing more than a trade piece. So how did we get here?
People forget how great Andujar’s offensive production was in 2018. He was by far the best AL offensive rookie that year and it’s safe to say that without Shohei Ohtani’s pitching numbers, Andujar would’ve won AL Rookie of the Year.
Andujar hit 27 homers in 2018 at just 23 years old. That year the only two third basemen to hit over .290 and drop 25+ HR’s were Nolan Arenado and you guessed it, Miguel Andujar. That production at that age is incredible. To put it in perspective, look at some of the best third basemen in the league and how good they were at 23 years old. Anthony Rendon didn’t hit over 25 homers in a season until he was 27 years old. Alex Bregman and Arenado were both in the league for a whole two years before they made the jump to being an all star caliber third basemen. Andujar was already producing at that level offensively in his first year in the show.
Obviously this makes his ceiling incredibly high. If he progresses or develops even the tiniest bit from his 2018 production, he would be considered one of the top third basemen in baseball.
But that’s the problem. “IF” he progresses or develops.
As we all know, Andujar played in only 12 games before tearing his shoulder in 2019. And then his replacement, Gio Urshela, took over. Although never producing much before being in pinstripes, Urshela has proved he is a force at the plate. But what separates him from Andujar is they are polar opposites in the field. Urshela is a gold glove caliber defender and Andujar is historically bad in the field. Even if Andujar does develop in the field, there’s only hope he can become a subpar/average defender and not a liability. He will never be able to be the defender Urshela is. So as long as Urshela is producing offensively, there is no need to play Andujar at third base.
Going into the 2020 season there was still promise for Andujar. However, Urshela ended up playing great on both sides of the ball again. Due to the complete package Urshela brings to the table, Andujar was trying to find time at DH, the outfield and first base. He managed to play in 21 games. Unfortunately for him, he just didn’t produce in the limited action he got.
I think a shortened covid season, a full Yankees roster, and not playing every day, really hurt Andujar. If the Yankees wanted to get any true production out of Andujar, they needed to have him in the lineup everyday. After not playing consistently in almost two years, he wasn’t going to instantly produce being sporadically thrown in the lineup. The small sample size doesn’t represent what he brings to the table but unfortunately it still has hurt him and his value.