Three keys to Miguel Andujar reclaiming his starting spot at 3B

2019 was not an easy year for one Miguel Andujar. After a runner up finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2018 behind only Shohei Ohtani, Yankees fans and staff alike expected Miggy to come out swinging in 2019.

Photo credit: New York Post

Despite concerns about his defense, he’d completed his rookie season by dazzling at the plate, hitting .297, with 170 hits, 27 home runs and 92 RBIs. He’d come through in clutch moments. He’d had a taste of the postseason. By all accounts, the future seemed bright. 

But then 2019 happened. Andujar suffered a season-ending torn labrum not two months into the 2019 regular season. The Yankees were able to survive, however, due to the brilliance of Gio Urshela who quickly filled the void at third base.

As such, 2020 would appear to be Andjuar’s time to shine.  However, Urshela isn't going anywhere, so it would be understandable on Boone’s part to continue using him as an everyday player at 3B.  So how can Andjuar overcome his lost season and flip the script in 2020? 

Improve defense
In just about every analysis of Miggy’s playing style throughout his breakout 2018 season, it was always noted that his offense was remarkable, especially for a rookie who wasn’t even supposed to be a headline rookie that season (all fans talked about all offseason was Gleyber Torres).  However, there was always a “but…” that followed any positive remarks on his offense.

The “but” was usually a comment about Miggy’s lackluster defense. Over the course of the 2018 season, he committed 15 errors and accounted for a -25 defensive runs saved. His defense became such a strong concern during the 2018 postseason that Aaron Boone kept him out of the lineup in later innings.  His infield defense was worrisome enough that Boone sacrificed his bad in an effort to not get burned by his defense late.  That logic speaks volumes -- and shows just how much Boone believes in Miggy’s offense, but not his defense. In addition, Miggy now needs to outshine Urshela, who is seemingly the whole package at 3B as he excelled offensively and defensively. An argument can be made that they are offensive equals, but Urshela far surpasses Miggy in terms of defense

Become a clubhouse leader
Miggy didn’t get his chance to shine in 2019.  However, he has spent one year more with the Baby Bombers than his counterpart at 3B, Urshela.  Even without playing time due to injuries, he knows the team longer. He’s had an additional year to bond and become a leader.  And due to his success in 2018, Miggy has already established a reputation as someone who came up big in clutch spots, just as Urshela did in 2019. 

Stay healthy
It was a mere three games into the 2019 season that Miggy tore his labrum sliding into third base.  He stayed on the I.L. until May 4th but played only until May 15th, when the Yankees announced that Miggy would undergo season-ending surgery.  Apparently, either Miggy was not as healthy as he assumed he felt, or the Yankees’ medical staff failed to assess the depth of the damage caused by the initial injury.  Playing with a labrum that was still injured, even for just a few weeks, didn’t do Miggy any favors. If Miggy can stay healthy in 2020, he’ll have a much better shot of reclaiming his spot -- and an overhauled Yankees’ medical staff should help to that end. 

While Boone will still have a difficult task of splitting the 3B role between Miggy and Urshela, Miggy can take any of these three keys and stand out.  Of course, Boone can decide to play Miggy at DH (or even first base or the outfield), but with Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit hopefully staying injury-free, the DH spot will also be a hard-fought commodity.  Miggy’s ideal situation is to, at the very least, platoon the 3B role with Urshela -- and at the most, become the star starting third baseman us fans have always known him to be since his 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up performance.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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