Throughout the course of the off-season, I’ll share my vision for the 2019 Yankees. This article is the second in this series. You can see the first article here:
Today we will look at third base.
For me, this is a no-brainer. A no-brainer. This one is easy.
I know that Miguel Andujar struggled defensively in 2018. I know that there have always been questions regarding his defense. But I also know that the man can hit. And he hits everything.
It could be argued that Andujar was the Yankees’ most consistent hitter in 2018. His slash line was .297/.328/.527.
Miguel Andujar blasted 27 homers in 2018.
Miguel Andujar also belted 47 doubles in 2018.
He was a major presence in the line-up from Day 1 and on through the entire season. All this happened in a season when the Yankees didn’t feel he was quite ready to assume playing in the Major Leagues on a daily basis. (After all, in 2018, Miguel Andujar was only a 23-years old rookie.)
What the Yankees have on their hands is one of the best young hitters in the game. As he matures, Andujar should only get better.
I am putting my stock in Andujar’s lightning quick bat.
Now, Andujar’s defense was bad, real bad. His DWAR was -2.2. That’s bad. Real bad. By some indications as I crunched the numbers, Miguel Andujar might have been the worst defensive third baseman in the big leagues in 2018.
Along with this, though, comes reports that Andujar is working extremely hard to become a quality (or even a passable) third baseman. I appreciate players that work hard. Because of this, I am not ready to give up on him as a defensive player.
There have been talks of possibly moving Andujar to a new position. I am against that.
I don’t want to see Miguel Andujar in left field. My left fielder in 2019 is Bryce Harper. The Yankees need left-handed power in the line-up. Putting Andujar in left doesn’t solve that very real need. Plus, moving positions is not easy. Over the years, we have seen the Yankees try putting infielders in left field (Chuck Knoblauch, Tony Womack). It hasn’t been pretty. Trying to solve Andujar’s defense by hiding him at a position he’s never played doesn’t make sense to me. Throughout his entire professional career, Miguel Andujar has been a third baseman.
Because his defense was so bad, moving Andujar to first base also doesn’t make sense to me. A first baseman is involved in a much higher percentage of plays than a third baseman. Do the Yankees really want to put a defensively challenged third baseman at first base where he’ll be equally challenged, involved in more plays, and also learning a new position and all that goes with that? The answer to that is a resounding, “No!”
If left field and first base are not options for Andujar, then the Yankees have only three other possibilities for him.
Make him a DH. I think turning a talented 23-year-old into a full time DH is a bad move. Also (spoiler alert) I would prefer the Yankees using the DH position for Giancarlo Stanton, but also as a place to “rest” Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, and Gary Sanchez while keeping their bats in the lineup.
Trade him. Boy would I hate to see the Yankees trade a talent as good as Miguel Andujar. I’d have nightmares of watching him hit and hit and hit his way across baseball for the next decade or more as I watch with envy saying, “We had that guy and we let him go.” For me, trading Andujar after his 2018 season is a non-starter.
Keep him at third base and hope that his work ethic and the Yankees’ coaching staff can help turn him into an adequate fielder.
It seems to me that choice #3 is the correct option.
If I was the General Manager, I’d put my faith in Miguel Andujar. Absolutely. 100%.
Miguel Andujar would be my starting third baseman on the 2019 Yankees.