The New York Yankees think they see their third baseman of the future in Miguel Andujar. With every passing day in Spring Training, that vision keeps getting brighter.
The New York Yankees brought in Brandon Drury to compete for the third base job with indigenous candidate Miguel Andujar. The acquisition not only provided insurance at the hot corner but also gave the team a chance to see the skill set each young talented player possessed, side-by-side in spring.
But Drury has only served to show how special Andujar can be.
That is not to say that Brandon has not played well; the opposite is true. Not only is his line of .304/.385/.609 more than respectable, it is in some ways better than Miguel’s (.281/.294/.781).
In fact, many of their stats are either the same or project to be the same.
As of 10 AM on March 12th, Drury has 23 AB’s to Andujar’s 32. Brandon has so far posted seven hits and scored three runs, with two doubles and a triple. And he has walked once and struck out four times in the process.
Miguel, meanwhile, has nine hits and scored five runs, also hitting two doubles and a triple. But he should have more hits and runs as he has had more AB’s. Striking out seven times, therefore, is roughly similar to Drury’s numbers, although only equaling his walks favors Brandon.
Three numbers not yet mentioned, however, show how Drury’s excellent performance is only highlighting Andujar’s great one.
Driving the Competition
The first two are about power and production: Home runs and RBI’s. Miguel has pounded out four homers and collected nine ribbies, which is why his SLG is .781, third highest on the team. And above players such as Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton.
Drury, meanwhile, has hit but one home run and amassed only three RBI’s.
The difference between the two might have best been illustrated in Sunday’s game. Miguel came up in the top of the fourth with Sanchez on third and fewer than two outs. Because he is a big kid with a big swing, he was able to punch the ball out to the center fielder, scoring Yo Soy El Gato; his BA went down, but his RBI’s went up.
The point is that his is the kind of bat the Yankees want up in those situations. Far too often have they seen a three-true-out-comer strike out or hit a ball weakly to an infielder.
Trading an out for a run in these situations adds up over the course of a season, and the Yankees need more guys who can do it. That’s Andujar, not Drury.
A Shifting Perspective
One more factor in Miguel’s favor here is that his style makes him harder to shift against.
A power hitter’s philosophy on shifts, which have always been a part of the game, is to hit over it, instead of around. That was still Mark Teixeira’s approach. Unfortunately for him, he no longer had the skill or stamina to beat the shifts that plagued him late in his career, but the advice is still sound for the right players.
Again, that’s Andujar.
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And that is not just because Andujar is built for power. It is also because he swings with bad intentions every time. Plus, he makes contact enough to routinely punish those little leather spheres; his .315 BA from last season offers some proof of that.
That means he is more likely to score that run from third than hit into a crowded infield. Right now, the same cannot be said of Drury.
But perhaps the biggest surprise in this competition is that Andujar is also winning in defense. His 1.000 Fielding Percentage (FP) can only be tied; Brandon, however, has an .875. This is too small a sample size to anoint one or crucify the other, but someone will have to subsume the position.
And here Andujar’s larger sample size is an undeniable point in his favor.
Beyond the stats, two recent plays have also served to highlight Andujar. Each man had an opportunity in the last two games to handle a hot shot up the line. Only Andujar was able to make his play, retiring a would-be runner.
Again, it is challenging to compare the two plays as there are so many variables, but all the New York Yankees and we have is what is seen on the field.
What the Yankees are starting to see is their future at third base. He hits the ball hard and drives in runs. His right arm is a cannon, and his work ethic and approach to the game fit in well with the established clubhouse. Best of all, he is only 23 years old.
And his name is Miguel Andujar.