Yankees Miguel Andujar working hard to improve his defense
Yankees third baseman, Miguel Andujar is hard at work this offseason — bettering his defensive mechanics in hopes of an even more productive sophomore campaign.
I often wonder if Miguel Andujar were to either duplicate or exceed the offensive statistics he put up last season — would the Yankees be comfortable with a similar defensive showing in 2019?
After all, without Andujar’s .297/.328/.527 slash line, 83 runs, 47 doubles, 27 home runs and 92 RBIs, the Yanks don’t make the postseason.
Upon leading all rookies in hits (170), doubles (setting the all-time Yankee rookie record), RBIs, extra-base hits (76) and multi-hit games (53), I’m still unsure how Shohei Ohtani beat out Andujar for first-year honors.
However, his 15 errors at the hot corner which led to an ALDS Game 4 benching have spurred speculation that the Yanks could potentially trade the 23-year-old slugger for a top-flight starting pitcher.
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While I contend that Andujar has yet to scratch the surface of his upper-echelon potential, Erik Boland of Newsday reports that the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up has already spent time at the Yankees Spring Training facility in Tampa, FLA — working to improve his defensive metrics.
"“He came down for a few days a couple of weeks ago,” infield coach Carlos Mendoza, who lives in the Tampa area, said by phone Friday. “We always talk about his work ethic, and the fact that it’s the offseason and he’s already working at his craft, not just physically but baseball-wise . . . that says a lot about Miguel Andujar.”"
Mendoza is said to have an especially close relationship with Andujar, as he was New York’s infield coordinator from 2013-17 (Andujar signed with the Yanks in July 2011).
Andujar, who will turn 24 in March, needs to become more fluid around the third base bag. Often times in 2018, awkward footwork put him at a disadvantage when it came to reacting to contact and taking better angles to balls in the hole.
With arm strength that has been clocked in the upper 90’s from across the diamond, consistent arm angles and a fluid throwing motion should allow Andujar to prove his athletic ability and understanding of the position will soon prove fruitful.
While Andujar may still be considered raw, Mendoza says that his pupil continues to exhibit the type of work ethic that will make him “special.”
"“It’s not that he wants to be good, he wants to be great. That’s the reason he’s doing what he’s doing,” Mendoza said. “He wants to continue to get better. He’s always looking for the details. ‘How can I improve here? How can I improve there?’ That’s what makes him special.”"