The Yankees have a lineup built to score runs. More than that, it’s about having a lineup that doesn’t give a pitcher a break one thru nine. That’s where Miguel Andujar fits in…
The Yankees, more often than not, found unexpected gold in them their hills last season when players appeared out of nowhere to step in to replace an injured teammate, causing the team not to miss a beat.
Nowhere was that more evident than in the case of Gio Urshela, who saw an opportunity and seized on it when Miguel Andujar, who by diving back into third base in the Yankees’ third game of the season, sustained an injury that ended his sophomore season with the Yankees.
This was the same Andujar who finished second to Shohei Ohtani in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2018. The numbers Andujar put up came fast and furiously with a display of power (27 HR, 97 RBI) and speed (49 doubles).
Yankees (Initially) Do The Right Thing
What’s fair is fair, even in baseball. And so it is the Yankees have declared third base to be Urshela’s job to lose. They’re not exactly going out on a limb in making that decision (albeit somewhat prematurely) – given Urshela’s dynamic offensive year (.314 BA, 21 HR, 74 RBI, and 34 doubles).
Still, at only 24, Miguel Andujar leaves the Yankees and their fans salivating for more. To get that “more,” Andujar needs at-bats, especially early in the season when, inevitably, Andujar will experience a period of adjustment to live pitching after being down a full season.
The trouble (if you want to think of that way), of course, is the Yankees are set with players at each position.
The dilemma in finding at-bats for Andujar only adds to Aaron Boone‘s “problems,” given the daily choice he faces between Luke Voit and Mike Ford at first base.
Let’s Try This…
The Yankees temporary solution? You’ll see Andujar taking reps in game situations at both first base and left field. This, in itself, is interesting when you recall Andujar’s defensive challenges at third base.
There will be opportunities presented to Boone to use Andujar as his Designated Hitter, but those reps are reserved mainly for Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.
Which brings us back full circle to the health of Yankee’s players this year as opposed to last season as the defining point.
How refreshing would it be if Sanchez, Stanton, and Aaron Judge can stay healthy enough to pull their weight by playing a position on the field, as opposed to DH’ing for this or that reason?
For now, all we can do is hope the opportunity to use Miguel Andujar as the DH is there more often than not. In the meantime, there’s this video…
The Yankees Are Afforded The Luxury Of Time
A haunting question facing Boone and the Yankees in the background is this – how tentative is the team’s commitment to Gio Urshela? And how soon, if Urshela were to stumble out of the gate, would it be before Boone makes a change to Andujar?
Urshela is an outlier in the Yankees organization. In contrast, Andujar is a home-grown product and something every team covets having bragging rights to as proof their farm system is alive and well.
Before we enter the realm of cynicism, though, it’s more likely Aaron Boone will use the first couple of months of the 2020 season to tinker with his lineup.
With no impending threat on the Yankees winning the American League East this year, the early portion of the season allows Boone to look here, look there, to determine the best team the Yankees can place on the field in October.
And I would venture to say it would not be a good idea to name the players (now) who will compose the Yankees lineup in Game One of the ALDS…