Miguel Andujar’s defense has been a major area of concern for the Yankees, especially after Sunday night’s debacle in Boston. Andujar committed a pair of errors in the series finale, one being a throwing error in the bottom of the ninth that allowed the Red Sox to tie the game and eventually complete a sweep that devastated the Yankees’ chances at the division crown.
The errors were another reminder of Andujar’s costly miscues on defense, which is reflected in his defensive runs saved mark of -14, and his defensive runs above average mark of -8.9 is the worst in the league among third baseman, almost double the mark of Yangervis Solarte (-4.5), who is second worst in baseball, according to FanGraphs.
That throwing error on Sunday obviously couldn’t have come at a worse moment for Andujar or the Yankees. Frankly, errors as a whole never seem to come at “good” times, as they often wind up biting the team that commits them. Still, despite Andujar’s defensive lapses, he has shown an ability to come up big at the plate when it matters most, which goes a long way in making up for his shaky glove.
Two nights after Andujar’s throw bounced off the Fenway dirt and trickled away from Greg Bird’s outstretched glove, the Yankees were looking to start their first August winning streak, but any source of offense was hard to come by. White Sox righty Reynaldo Lopez was mowing the Bombers down at an alarming rate while clinging to a 1-0 lead, but Andujar tied it with a solo shot in the seventh to send the game to extra innings.
After the White Sox erased a two-run deficit in the 10th, Andujar came up big again with a go-ahead single in the 13th, avoiding another devastating loss and keeping the Yankees in the win column. It was another example of Andujar coming up clutch at the plate, and not letting his defensive problems follow him into the batter’s box.
Andujar’s home run in the seventh inning on Tuesday night was his 15th of the season, but the seventh homer that either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead. One of the most memorable of the seven blasts came in Toronto when the Yankees were again struggling to find offense. Down 1-0 to the Blue Jays, Andujar launched a go-ahead grand slam on the first pitch of the at-bat, sending the Yankees on their way to a 7-2 victory.
The timely hitting for Andujar doesn’t stop there. With two outs this season, Andujar has an OPS+ of 138, by far his highest mark. He also holds a 146 OPS+ when the Yankees are trailing in a game, and an unreal 168 OPS+ in high leverage situations. One of Andujar’s brightest moments of the season was his walk-off single against the Indians in May, when he fought off a 1-2 breaking ball from Cody Allen to plate Giancarlo Stanton. That was just one of the many timely hits that Andujar has accumulated over his rookie season to pad his stats in tight games.
The Yankees are rightfully concerned about Andujar’s defense, especially at a demanding spot like third base. However, they have to be thrilled with his poise at the plate. His violent helicopter follow through may look wild, but when the pressure mounts, Andujar keeps a steady hand in the batter’s box.