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Miguel Andujar is hitting like Andrew McCutchen

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The Yankees third baseman looks like a former MVP at the plate.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Yankees broke down the Gerrit Cole trade talks because they refused to budge on including Miguel Andujar? I admit at the time I disagreed with that decision. I desperately wanted Cole, and thought Andujar would best serve the team as a trade chip. He had an impressive cup of coffee in 2017, but he seemed like a victim to the numbers crunch. With their cache of infield prospects, the Yankees had to trade someone, right? It might as well be Andujar, who could fetch a quality arm.

Allow me to apologize for my shortsightedness.

The 23-year-old third baseman received a call-up once Billy McKinney landed on the disabled list. Brandon Drury’s injury resulted in increased playing time. He hasn’t slowed down since. Andujar carried a .300/.313/.588 batting line, with three home runs, into Monday night’s game. That adds up to an impressive 137 wRC+. He has exceeded all expectations in the early going, which really says something considering the pressure placed on him in spring training.

As a baseball writer, however, I’m never satisfied with individual results. I like situating a player in context and creating comparisons. That led me to the question of the hour: Who is Andujar’s best comp in baseball right now?

To answer that, I turned to data that exists below the surface level. Traditional metrics prove useful when considering results, but I want to know who shares Andujar’s approach. That makes for a more revealing — and interesting — story. In particular, I’m looking at exit velocity and launch angle.

Entering the series in Houston, Andujar managed a 92.3 mph average exit velocity. He also generated, on average, a 13.3 degree launch angle. Working with a minimum threshold of 50 at-bats, I pulled a list of batters who had an average exit velocity between 92 - 94 mph. Shoutout to Baseball Savant for the Statcast data.

That search turned up 19 batters, too large for drawing meaningful comparisons. I trimmed it by eliminating any batter whose average launch angle existed outside of the 13 - 15.3 range. That left me with three batters from which I could pull a comp: Rafael Devers, Andrew McCutchen, and Hanley Ramirez.

Obviously, as a group, that’s lofty company. To select one particular comp, however, further variables need introducing. I find that batted ball profile, quality of contact, and plate discipline reveal a good deal about a hitter. Accordingly, those metrics will hopefully produce our comp for Andujar.

Miguel Andujar’s Batting Comps

Player Exit Velo Launch Angle Pull% Hard% Z-Swing% O-Swing%
Player Exit Velo Launch Angle Pull% Hard% Z-Swing% O-Swing%
Miguel Andujar 93.2 mph 13.3 52.3% 40% 73.9% 15.8%
Rafael Devers 93 mph 13.8 39.7% 38.4% 70.4% 37.4%
Andrew McCutchen 92.6 mph 13.6 55.1% 50.7% 67.4% 19%
Hanley Ramirez 92.1 mph 13.9 41.7% 40.3% 76.2% 30.8%

Hello, McCutchen.

Based on all of the information gathered, Andujar’s batting approach best resembles the former National League MVP’s. Now before pulling up FanGraphs and pointing out McCutchen’s .200/.327/.337 batting line or 95 wRC+, remember that results take a back seat to underlying performance in this discussion.

Consider the fact that McCutchen also owns a career .289/.378/.484 triple-slash. That batting profile worked out just fine for him. If Andujar indeed has a comparable makeup, then he could be in store for a very productive career. Since he only falls short in terms of hard contact, I’m willing to say that they’re similar hitters.

After all, they both can hit laser home runs. Remember this Andujar line-drive homer to left field?

We’ve seen McCutchen turn on pitches like that for the last decade or so. Their power is for real.

This, of course, comes with the caveat of small sample sizes. Andujar’s appeared in only 21 games this year. Pitchers will make adjustment, and he will have to recalibrate. Only then will we have a truly clear picture of who he is at the plate.

It remains tough to say if Andujar is actually this good. While highly regarded, he only just snuck on the top 100 prospects lists. Then again, Robinson Cano never received top prospect attention prior to breaking into the big leagues. It’s possible that the Yankees had a McCutchen-esque batter in their system for some time now.

Hitting like a former MVP sets the bar incredibly high for Andujar. It’s probably unfair to hold him to that moving forward. It does, however, show why the Yankees like him so much. I wanted Cole badly, but now I get Cashman’s reluctance to part with Andujar. His makeup gives him a very high ceiling.