Miguel Andjújar is still our ROY

It felt like a shoe-in. So much so, in fact, that I advocated for what I thought was the inevitable all the way back in September, before the BBWAA even announced the nominees for American League Rookie of the Year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

And then, the opposite of what many of us thought should happen… well, happened. Shohei Ohtani was named as the 2018 A.L. ROY over our beloved Miguel Andújar.

There’s a lot wrong with this picture, not the least of which is the fact the Yankees had not one, but two chances with Gleyber Torres in the running, to come away with the ROY honors. Do Yankees fans want to believe that the winners were chosen based on stats, performances and various other baseball-related criteria? Of course.

However, the criteria for the winner of ROY in either league is still so vague that it only includes number of at-bats or innings pitched, as well as number of days on a MLB active roster. It’s clear to players as well as fans that there is a lot of smoke-in-mirrors when it comes to choosing an award recipient. Outside of the members of the BBWAA, no one knows the performance criteria for winners -- only what qualifies players to be classified as “rookies.”

This brings us to the fact that the award winners are chosen by a group of baseball writers who may or may not be New York-based. And, any baseball fanatic or writer based outside of the tri-state area has serious potential to… you guessed it! Hate the Yankees just because they are the Yankees, and because non-Yankees fans have a long-standing tradition of hating the Yankees, citing rallying cries including “they buy their team,” “their fans cry when they don’t win and yet they’ve won 27 times,” “George Steinbrenner was obnoxious,” and everything in between.

I could go on by fighting each of the above statements and illustrating how they aren’t true. Or, I could discuss how neither Andújar nor Torres stood a chance just because they’re Yankees. But instead of engaging in further hate (because it seems both the Yankees and their fans alike have endured enough of that for a while), I’m going to take a look back at Andújar’s 2018 season (excluding the postseason, since we do actually know that the postseason isn’t part of nominee criteria), showing some of his ROY-worthy highlights, proving that he was indeed deserving of this honor... seeing as there's no exact criteria in place, or anything. I’m not even going to bother to hate on Ohtani. We’re above that at this point.

Remember when Miggy was called up to replace Brandon Drury and proved far more productive offensively than Drury was to begin with?
In the six games following his initial call-up, Andújar went 13-for-25. He wasn’t even supposed to be in the Major Leagues by that point. Most of the offseason hype surrounding Yankees prospects was centered on Torres. Not only did Andújar surprise the fans, but, he was completely underrated and proved just how much he could deliver within the first month of the 2018 season.

Oh, and there was that time when he came up clutch twice in one game, turning a 1-0 game into a 1-1 game, and then, pretty much won the game for the Yankees in extra innings.
Prior to the Yankees’ August 7th visit to the Chicago White Sox, they were in the midst of a five-game losing streak. They started a new winning streak the night before, on August 6th, but Andújar truly sealed the deal the following evening. He tied the game in the 7th inning, bringing the score to 1-1, and then, after the Yankees lost the lead and tied the game again, gave the go-ahead RBI in the top of the 13th inning.

Then there was the grand slam that wasn’t enough to win, but that wasn’t Miggy’s fault. Oh, and he wasn’t even in the starting lineup that day.
On September 15th, in the middle of a quest to gain home field advantage in the A.L. Wild Card game, the Yankees’ hopes were dashed fairly early following a less than stellar outing from C.C. Sabathia that only lasted 2.1 IP. The score going into the 7th inning stood at 8-1 in favor of the Toronto Blue Jays. By the end of the 7th inning, the game was back in reach with a score of 8-7, after solo home runs from Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius, and a grand slam from Andújar. Without that grand slam, the game wouldn’t have been in reach at all. Unfortunately, the Yankees offense couldn’t manage to get a game-tying or go-ahead run in the 8th or 9th innings.

Finally, Miggy managed to save the Yankees from a no-hitter in Boston, in one of their most humiliating series of the season.  
One run doesn’t sound like a big deal. But when it’s in the midst of a game that otherwise would have been a no-hitter for the opposing pitcher, and that pitcher is the Boston Red Sox’ Rick Porcello, and the Yankees were shellacked by the Red Sox in a 15-7 loss the previous evening… it’s a big deal. Andújar recorded the only hit of the game on August 3rd, a solo home run over the Green Monster. Sure, he saved the executives of Boston area-based Jordan’s Furniture $100 million, according to The Loop, as “Jordan's launched a promotion that promised its customers full refunds on purchases made between March 28 and May 20 if a Red Sox hurler threw a regular-season no-hitter anytime after July 17. Combined no-hitters were also included.” But more importantly, he actually gave a damn about his team in a game that felt unwinnable.

There is a lot to look forward to from Andújar, both in 2019 and beyond, and this “highlight reel” only scratches the surface of his contributions in his rookie year. While fans won’t see him as a ROY contender in the future, with some improvements in the fielding department, the Yankees could have a MVP contender on their hands -- provided they aren’t stupid enough to trade him. 

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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