Yankees defensive sieve Miguel Andújar deserves extra

Miguel Andújar has fallen off a cliff since his rookie season in 2018. As he’s struggled to copy the offensive tallies of his breakout yr, his defensive points have grown extra evident, and he’s been unable to safe an everyday position within the Yankees lineup. Andújar spent the primary half of the 2020 season splitting time between the large leagues and the alternate coaching web site at Scranton. When he did play, he struggled to make contact with the baseball on offense and protection, recording 4 hits by way of his first 32 at-bats, and posting fielding percentages equal to or under .800 at each third base and left area. The one slot within the lineup the place Andújar didn’t make an error this season was as a delegated hitter.

Regardless of his defensive shortcomings all season lengthy, his second half on the plate confirmed indicators for optimism, that at simply 25 years previous, Andújar has the power to recoup his worth on the commerce market or develop right into a beginning choice for the Yankees. Within the midst of a nightmare August when Andújar triple-slashed .115/.148/.115 throughout 27 plate appearances, I detailed the mechanical causes for his struggles at the plate in addition to on defense. Although the protection remained catastrophically dangerous, Andújar’s offense quietly surged, offering proof that he was nonetheless able to attaining 2018’s manufacturing on the plate. In 31 September at-bats, he hit .355/.394/.581, the very best charges of any month in his whole profession. Although he didn’t seem to make any appreciable changes on the plate, it did appear as if Andújar’s manufacturing steadied merely from his rising comfortability within the batter’s field.

Regardless of Andújar’s statistical enhancements, his old school, pull-happy strategy raises his ground, however hard-caps his ceiling as a hitter. The important thing to his success, it appears, is all in his rhythm. Andujar primarily hits at one-speed: anticipating fastballs. When he’s late to fastballs, all the things else will get thrown out of whack. He’s now not capable of shield the zone on on a regular basis strikes, and feels strain to chase off-speed pitches. When he’s on high of fastballs, and he finds one over the center or interior components of the plate, he often drives them with authority to the pull aspect.

Right here he’s bombing a Hyun-jin Ryu cutter to left-center for his lone residence run of the season:

Andújar is early for Ryu’s slower-than-average cut-fastball over the center, enjoying straight into his power as a hitter. By breaking in the direction of his physique, the lefty cutter speeds Andújar’s rhythm up, rewarding him for promoting out to drag. Andújar successfully cuts off his capacity to drive the ball with drive on the outer half of the plate, solely batting one ball to proper area with larger than an 86 mph exit velocity all season. When he clears his hips aggressively and totally, he can now not keep by way of an out of doors pitch, however is afforded extra time and area to drive these within the inner-half, like this Ryu cutter.

His success in opposition to left-handed breaking pitches highlights the boons and prices of his swing-path. On the season, Andújar batted .667 in opposition to lefties’ breakers, regardless of an xwOBA of simply .314. When a lefty would try and “back-foot” Andújar, he’d be early sufficient to catch the ball forward of its full break, blasting a grounder by way of the 5.5 gap for a single, explaining the large disparity between his achieved and anticipated statistics.

Andújar may be very early on this tried strikeout pitch, however as a result of it’s breaking in the direction of him, he is ready to keep on it longer than if it had been breaking away from him, as he smoked this ball practically 107 mph.

Alternatively, Andújar’s incompetence in opposition to something that breaks away from him is exacerbated by his aforementioned strategy. Towards lefty changeups, a pitch that breaks away from him, he was usually horrible, going one for eight in at bats in opposition to lefties concluding in a changeup, along with his solely hit being a weakly struck line drive to left.

Towards 24 righty sliders in 2020, the right-handed pitch with the best lateral motion away from Andújar, he swung simply six occasions, indicative of his total discomfort with the pitch. And for good purpose, when he did, his swings resulted in two groundouts, a popup, and three whiffs. Proper now, Andújar will be extremely efficient in sure spots, particularly when the matchup performs to his benefit—specifically a left-handed pitcher who depends on a breaking pitch with important horizontal motion.

Even on this previous postseason, Andújar would have been a extra helpful bat off the bench than Mike Ford, who made the roster over him. Although Ford proper now has arguably extra defensive worth as a satisfactory alternative over at first base in comparison with Andújar’s appreciable struggles at any defensive spot, the gulf between them offensively is greater than sufficient to justify Miggy over Ford. In Ford’s two postseason at bats, he regarded ill-equipped for the second in each events, putting out and coming out. With Tyler Wade’s positional flexibility as a defensive alternative, Andújar is gentle years forward of anyone else the Yankees may have introduced off the bench, particularly in the proper second.

In 2021, with Gio Urshela manning the recent nook for the foreseeable future, it’d behoove the Yankees to begin Andújar at third or DH in opposition to lefties when doable with the intention to give him the very best alternative to recoup a few of his worth. If doable, they’d be finest off buying and selling him for prospects, picks, or pitching to a youthful staff with a gap at third, an extended improvement timeline, and the willingness to endure some bumps on the street to ironing out Andújar’s defensive foibles.

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