I was lucky enough to attend the Yankees game against the Blue Jays on Sunday, and while the main attraction was Gleyber Torres’ promotion, the person who stole the show was the other youngster in the infield, Miguel Andujar, who went 4-for-4. It is part of a stretch where he has 11 hits in his last 21 plate appearances, and on the season he is hitting .308/.327/.596 (146 wRC+) with a couple of home runs.
Quite a few things have been made fairly clear from Andujar’s recent blast on to the scene. The first is that he was certainly underrated by the prospect community until very recently. This was due to his questionable defense and the low walk/high contact approach that usually does not portend success at the big league level.
The difference is that a failure usually arises from a lack of pitch recognition, which does not seem to be the case. Even though his O-Swing% is a bit high (38.3%), which is pretty much to be expected, his zone contact rate of 92.9% shows that he can smack anything over the plate.
The predictability of his future success aside, it’s clear that he now has the scouting and professional plate appearance bona fides to stay in the lineup. This is especially true with the poor performance of Neil Walker and Tyler Wade, and the injury to Brandon Drury. The infield depth chart now looks something like this:
- 1B: Walker, Tyler Austin, Andujar
- 2B: Torres, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade (40-man)
- SS: Didi Gregorius, Torres, Torreyes
- 3B: Andujar, Walker, Torres, Drury (DL)
What this largely means is that the Yankees have done a very good job of diversifying their infield depth so that no one is locked down to a single position; only Gregorius rightfully “owns” a position. Even then, the addition of Torres, with Torreyes, allows Gregorius to get DH opportunities while still filling out a competent infield.
It also means that when Drury gets back, and he is expected to get playing time based on the team’s opinion of him, Andujar will likely not be sent to Triple-A as he may have, had he not started performed very recently. I’m not going to go as far to say that Drury has been Wally Pipped, but it at least establishes the possibility that he will have to share time with Andujar at the bare minimum.
I couldn’t tell you what Andujar looks like in 600-1000 plate appearances from now. I think there’s going to be some course-correction as pitchers give him more off-speed pitches out of the zone, but I would imagine his ability to select pitches, combined with his plus bat speed will at least keep him at league average. There are going to be a lot of moving parts—Drury’s return, Torres’ integration into the roster, and the possibility of a trade acquisition or a Manny Machado signing come November. Either way, Andujar has become a semi-permanent part of the conversation.