Yankees: Can Gleyber Torres or Miguel Andujar win Rookie of the Year?

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 02: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees throws out Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on May 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 02: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees throws out Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park on May 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Angels phenom Shohei Otani seems to have the early lead in the AL Rookie of the Year race, but the Yankees have a pair of infielders who could be his biggest competition. Can Miguel Andujar or Gleyber Torres make it two years in a row a Yankee wins the award?

It came sooner than we all expected but Andujar and Torres arrived at the big league level in April and they sure look like they’re here to stay. An injury to Brandon Drury and lack of production from Tyler Wade and Neil Walker opened the door for the two rookies to join the Yankees starting infield. Lately, they’ve each been a big part of the team’s success.

Before Torres made his big league debut on April 22nd Andujar was already in the midst of taking control of the starting third base job. Since his call-up on April 1st, Andujar has been an extra-base hitting machine with a total of 16. His 12 doubles are good for second in all of baseball. His defense, which was a question mark during spring training, hasn’t been an issue either as he’s been everything the Yankees could have asked for and much more.

Despite his fast start, with Brandon Drury close to returning from the DL, the Yankees will have a tough decision to make regarding who starts at third moving forward. Based on the production they’ve gotten from Andujar I don’t know how Aaron Boone could justify removing him from the lineup.

As for Torres, he doesn’t have to worry about being replaced because now that he’s here he should be the Yankees everyday second basemen for the rest of the season and the seasons to follow. His transition to the major leagues has been seamless and with each passing game, he continues to show why he was so highly touted coming up through the Yankees system.

On Monday he experienced losing in the major leagues for the first time and since his call-up, the Yankees are now 11-1. He and Andujar both had huge hits in the ninth inning of Thursday’s thrilling comeback victory over the Astros. Their clutch play helped the Yanks take three of four from the defending champs and six of seven on the west-coast trip.

To say Torres is the main reason for the team’s recent surge might be an overstatement but when you watch him play he does so many different things to help his team win games. His bat has been as advertised with a .317 batting average while his defense has impressed the most. There’s a reason his manager recently compared him to the Cub’s Javier Baez because of how smooth he is at second.

Like Baez, he’s a shortstop playing second base so the combination of his range and plus throwing arm really make him a special defender. The Yankees struggled a lot defensively early in April, but collectively they have cleaned things up since Torres was called up.

Who has the edge in the chase for Rookie of the Year?

As I said previously, right now Shohei Otani is the clear front-runner to win the award because of his unique skill set as a starting pitcher and designated hitter. That will be tough to beat. It’s still very early but right now based on the numbers it looks like a three-man race between him and the two Baby Bombers.

Between Torres and Andujar I’d have to go with Gleyber for one main reason and that’s playing time. With Drury close to returning we don’t know if Andujar will continue to play every day. Like Miggy, the Yankees had high hopes for Drury and they’re not going to kick him to the curb just because he got hurt. Andujar should still be the starter when he returns but if he begins to struggle he’ll have a short leash and could see his playing time decrease in favor of Drury.

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We know that barring a major slump or injury Torres is the everyday second basemen from here on out. That’s why he was brought up and that’s where the Yankees front office always envisioned him to be at some point this season.

Andujar has the bigger numbers in the early going and if he keeps playing every day those numbers could be good enough to potentially win the award. However, I’m not sure he’ll get the opportunity to continue doing so. Torres will, and based on his hot start he’ll also continue to put up numbers that could really give Ohtani a run for his money.

Torres is already hitting well over .300 and he has all the tools to do so over the course of the season. That would put him in the same class as Derek Jeter’s rookie year when he won the award back in 1996. Like Jeter, Torres puts the bat on the ball and sprays his hits all over the field. He finds the holes which is exactly what The Captain did on his way to 3,465 career hits.

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The Yankees can only hope that Torres and Andujar end up having careers even close to the future Hall of Fame Jeter, but they’re off to a good start. The future is bright for these two rookies and the crazy thing is that the best is yet to come.

Whether that leads to one of them winning AL Rookie of the Year at the end of the season remains to be seen. They certainly have the talent to do so, although I’m sure they’d be much more happy with a World Series trophy instead.