With Ohtani's season in question, the AL ROY award will be a battle between the Baby Bombers

Heading into the season, many speculated on how big of a role Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres would have for the Yankees. Each started off in the minors, with Brandon Drury and Neil Walker starting at second and third on Opening Day. After a lingering headache issue for Drury sidelined him for weeks and Walker and Tyler Wade disappointed mightily, the Yanks front office and management realized those weren’t the two best options. Torres and Andujar were quickly promoted to the majors and have now earned an everyday starting role.
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Andujar has been so good in his time that Drury, now healthy, remains at Triple-A. Fellow AL ROY competitor Shohei Ohtani was heavily pursued by the Yankees this offseason and was a prized possession. After a somewhat surprising move in choosing the Angels, Ohtani lived up to the contract he received a few months into his career. After excelling though, Ohtani learned last week that his rookie season may have to come to an end and he’d have to have Tommy John Surgery, every pitcher’s worst nightmare. The earliest he’d return is 2020, a little less than two years from now. With that injury possibility, it’s opened the door for the two Yankees rookies to win the AL Rookie of the Year award. They never had much of a chance because Ohtani had the unique talent of being able to both pitch and hit at an elite level. Across 114 ABs, he slashed .289/.372/.535 with six homers, eight doubles, and 20 RBIs. On the pitching side of things, he made nine starts for the Angels, going 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA while striking out 61 in 49.1 innings, equating to an 11.1 K/9. He also pitched to an excellent FIP of 3.23 and was well on his way to making the All-Star Game.

Now with Ohtani down, it’s up to Torres and Andujar for who wins Rookie of the Year. Currently, their hitting stats are pretty similar and with Torres being a better defender, he’s likely the front runner at the moment. Andujar has been an extra-base hit machine in his time so far. Across 203 at-bats, Andujar has slashed .304/.332/.537 with eight homers, 22 doubles, and 28 RBIs. His 22 doubles rank fourth in the AL heading into Tuesday night’s contests. With a WAR of 0.9, Andujar has had two main criticisms so far in his career. The first one being his defensive setbacks, as he doesn’t play with the greatest range and is statistically one of the worst third baseman in baseball. The second part of it is his tendency to chase a lot of pitches out of the zone. He doesn’t strikeout as much as one would think for how much he swings (18.2% of his ABs), but he’s registered just nine walks on the season thus leading to a low OBP.
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On the other hand, Torres hasn’t faced many criticisms at all. In 55 less ABs than Andujar, Torres has more homers (13 to 8), RBIs (33 to 28), walks (11 to 9), while reaching base more often and slugging a higher percentage despite all the doubles Andujar has hit. Torres has struck out a bit more than Andujar at a 27.6% clip, but has also excelled at second base for the Yanks. Amongst rookies in the majors, Torres ranks second in homers, third in RBIs, eighth in hits, third in both BA and OBP among guys with at least 100 ABs, and leads all rookies in slugging percentage. Referring to the earlier comment about Torres being the better defender between himself and Andujar, he has had his own struggles at second. In 361 innings at the position, he’s had eight errors which is a bit more than the Yanks would like. With that being said, he’s still shown off stellar range and a knack to fix his mistakes. Despite those eight errors, he’s shown to be an above-average defender. According to Baseball Reference, Andujar has accumulated four errors and a defensive WAR of -0.7 in the process. That’s certainly not what you want and if the Yanks can just get him to be an average defender at third, it’ll help tremendously.

For now, the AL ROY race is down to the two Yankees rookies. Torres and Andujar are neck and neck and each will have their chance to win it as the season goes on.

Article by: Spencer Schultz


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