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The Yankees are close to seeing a Miguel Andujar return

Andujar could be one of the first of many Yankees to return from the injured list, so let’s look into what he offers to the current team after a great freshman year.

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

They say April showers bring May flowers, and the rain never stopped pouring on the Bombers last month. Thankfully, in the midst of this storm has formed a resilient team that has continued to win in spite of adversity. With the recent news about Miguel Andujar currently working his way back towards the big league club, it looks like May could bring the Yankees some better fortune. Even their injuries appear to be occurring in more optimal ways; Gio Urshela and DJ LeMahieu got banged up during the San Francisco series, yet find themselves day-to-day instead of on the injured list.

Among this cast of players, Andujar’s name pops out. With Andujar’s return seemingly imminent, let’s look back at his 2018 stats to see what he can bring the current battered Yankees. For starters, Andujar obviously had the most aggressive batting approach of all Yankees last season, boasting a 53.1% swing rate. That ranked 24th among 214 players in baseball with at least 400 plate appearances.

The man likes to swing, and for good reason. He is one of the better bat-to-ball hitters on the team, and his aggressive approach combined with a quality contact tool gives the Yankees a rare contact hitter from the right side.

Andujar was by far the best right-handed hitter on the team in terms of avoiding strikeouts and putting the ball in play. Players like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, and Gleyber Torres, all have amazing power, and they all struck out more than 25% of the time. Andujar ended the season with a 16% strikeout rate. Yet Andujar displays a great amount of power as well. That change of pace, a hitter that can put the ball in play while also making hard contact, makes him a good choice to strategically split up the strikeout-heavy hitters in the lineup. Looking back, this might give some insight as to why the Yankees decided to sign LeMahieu, a right-handed hitter with excellent contact ability, even better than Andujar’s:

2018 Plate Discipline

Player PA O-Swing% O-Contact% Z-Swing% Z-Contact% Swing% Contact% Zone% SwStr%
Player PA O-Swing% O-Contact% Z-Swing% Z-Contact% Swing% Contact% Zone% SwStr%
Miguel Andujar 606 39.4 69.7 74.0 91.8 53.1 81.9 39.6 9.6
Didi Gregorius 569 36.2 71.0 74.7 90.3 51.5 82.1 39.7 9.2
Brett Gardner 609 21.7 75.3 53.4 93.7 36.0 87.6 45.1 4.5
DJ LeMahieu 581 26.0 72.7 60.1 95.0 41.7 87.5 46.0 5.2
Aaron Judge 498 25.1 44.1 63.8 79.1 40.3 65.9 39.3 13.8

This table provides a quick look at how Andujar’s plate discipline compares to the rest of the team. Gregorius and Andujar look awfully similar, just from opposite sides of the plate. In fact, Andujar’s profile looks quite a bit like a few players from the opposite side. Gregorius, Hicks, and Gardner all ran swinging strike rates less than ten percent, while Andujar was the only true right-hander to do so.

Another interesting note; pitchers are wary of Andujar’s aggressive style, throwing only 39.6% of pitches in the zone to him. Opponents pitch Gregorius similarly, given his aggressive tack from the left side, while pitchers flee from the zone against Judge as well, as they simply don’t want to give him pitches to hit. Conversely, pitchers raise the amount of pitches they throw in the zone when pitching to patient likes of Gardner and LeMahieu.

With Andujar returning, a few scenarios have floated around regarding how the Yankees should shift their roster. Some fans don’t want to see Urshela’s hot bat taken out the lineup and his glove from the diamond, and instead ask for Andujar to DH while Urshela keeps manning third. Regardless of how exactly the roster shakes out, we know Andujar is coming off a great 2018 at the plate, and one that had interesting stylistic similarities and differences to the rest of the Yankees’ lineup. Let’s hope his recovery finishes well and he can provide the team another healthy spark.