The AL ROY Showdown: Why Miguel Andujar is the clear winner vs. Shohei Ohtani
Show of hands, folks: coming into the 2018 season, did anyone think that Miguel Andújar, while we knew he was getting the call, would take over as the Yankees’ starting third baseman? Not with the likes of Brandon Drury around, and certainly not before Todd Fraizer skipped on over to that other New York team. It seemed, that even with a few stellar 2017 season appearances, we all forgot about Andújar, and the buzz surrounding other Yankees prospects not named Gleyber Torres
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And, conversely, did we all think that Shohei Ohtani, arguably the off-season’s most heralded phenom, was going to just blow us all away with his superhuman abilities?
But now, with just over a month to go in a tight postseason race, the Yankees are counting on Andújar, and they’re counting on him a great deal more than they ever counted on Drury (who’s he again?). Sure, he gets flack for his fielding with 14 errors this season, but his productivity in terms of offense doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Drury’s -- even when looking at his previous season stats, as, thanks to his extended stint on the DL, Drury doesn’t nearly have enough stats in 2018 to make a fair comparison.
However, we’re not here to compare Andújar to his former Yankees counterpart. We’re here to illustrate just why Andújar qualifies himself to win Rookie of the Year, as opposed to that new guy in Anaheim who apparently hits and pitches in the American League, and Yankees fans were cursing because he had no interest in coming to play in New York.
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According to BaseballReference.com, the criteria for a ROY award recipient mainly stems from what it means to be a “rookie”: “Fewer than 130 at bats” or “fewer than 50 innings pitched” or “fewer than 45 days on the active roster, excluding time on the disabled list, in military service, or time when the rosters are expanded (currently after September 1).”
So, there’s no existing criteria for the award in terms of statistics, by way of hitting, pitching or fielding, or in terms of clubhouse presence, lineup protection and “clutch” moments that we’ve seen in the likes of one former Yankees captain. Which means… criteria will have to be created here in order to compare the two players. Now, without further ado…
Stats as of 8/30/2018:
Okay, that race is a little tighter…
(Insert “thinking” emoji here.)
First one Andjuar loses.
Give credit where it’s due.
Is this fair to use because Ohtani also pitches? Yes, because he hasn’t pitched in three months, but he’s hit in that time.
In the words of Happy Gilmore, “somebody’s closer!”
And finally, WAR:
While Ohtani hasn’t pitched in three months, his WAR is going to be higher just based on the fact that he’s also a pitcher.
In reviewing these stats, Andújar wins most of these categories, and he wins by a long shot. In the categories that Ohtani wins, it’s not by a lot. But as we well know, awards, in baseball or anywhere else, aren’t won based upon numbers alone. And there’s a lot more to go on with both of these players.
When you Google “Shohei Ohtani in Clubhouse,” the biggest -- and most repeated -- result is this tweet:
Logan Morrison with high praise for Shohei Ohtani: "There's another guy in that clubhouse who is a really good player. But to me, with what he does on the mound and with the bat, he's probably the best player in the world."— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) May 14, 2018
Notice, Logan Morrison isn’t actually talking about what Ohtani does inside the clubhouse and what kind of a teammate he is.
When you Google “Miguel Andújar in Clubhouse,” you find a number of pieces related to stats, to Andújar versus Drury (sigh), to Andújar versus Torres for ROY (which we’ll get to shortly). But if you scroll for long enough, you’ll also find this piece, which describes Andújar as someone who wants to liven up the clubhouse with dance music. While one article citing such an event may not constitute consistent evidence, it’s a snapshot, and it’s more than Ohtani can show for himself. No one’s writing articles about how he livens up the clubhouse early in the morning before a day game.
With Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius injured, Andújar currently doesn’t get the benefit of lineup protection in the same manner he would have prior to to these injuries-- and he doesn’t need it. He’s had to step up, but didn’t have to level up to step up, because he has remained consistent before and after his teammates suffered injuries.
Ohtani doesn’t hit before or after Mike Trout, so…
There was the go-ahead grand slam against the Blue Jays. This walkoff win back on Star Wars Day in May. And, most recently, Andújar brought morale back to the Yankees when he put the game back in reach in the seventh earlier this week against the White Sox, and they went on to come from behind to win.
As far as Ohtani, he’s on the same sort of pace with Andújar in this category. In spite of an apparent injury, he entered the lineup as a pinch hitter back in July against the Dodgers, and hit the game-winning home run. He was part of a ninth-inning rally back in May against the Blue Jays, and didn’t even have to go yard to manage it.
So, while Andújar and Ohtani are seemingly neck-and-neck in a lot of the above categories (their stats are overall stellar, they’re both clutch hitters), what makes Andújar the frontrunner?
He was a surprise.
The hype surrounding Ohtani, and even Torres, was consistent in the 2018 off-season. We knew Ohtani was a phenom. We knew he could hit and pitch. We knew that the Yankees wanted to acquire him and didn’t. And, based on what fans thought they would see from this generation's "Babe Ruth", he was a bit of a letdown if you really look at the stats.
But Andújar? We weren’t sure what his future looked like, and he had to overcome adversity -- between an injury that kept him out for a portion of 2017, and a decision between him and Drury, and being perpetually in the shadow of Torres, that’s a lot to deal with. And he’s dealing with more adversity now, what with so many of his power-hitting teammates on the DL. But we can say now, with certainty, that Andújar’s future is brighter than ever. He’s proven that he’ll overcome any adverse situation thrown at him, and that makes him the better contender for ROY over Ohtani.
Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson
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