Miguel Andujar means there is competition for the New York Yankees third base job, but it is really Gio Urshela’s role to lose.
Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar burst onto the baseball scene in 2018, as the Dominican Republic native came ever-so-close to taking home the American League Rookie of the Year trophy, ultimately losing to pitching and hitting phenom Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
Batting .297, with 27 home runs, 92 RBIs, and 47 doubles, the then 23-year old seemed to be a staple in the Yankees lineup for years to come, as it seemed to be the first true answer at third base since Alex Rodriguez. The fielding needed some work, as the glove worked .946 percent of the time. Andujar committed 15 errors.
2019 created some cause for concern as in the final game of Opening Weekend against the Baltimore Orioles, Andujar would injure his shoulder diving into third base.
The tests revealed a minor tear in his throwing shoulder and he was placed on the injured list in an effort to rehab and avoid season-ending surgery. Rehab failed and surgery became the only option, as the Yankees lost their starting third baseman.
Quickly, Gio Urshela, who was acquired back in August of 2018, filled the void Andujar left behind, wreaking havoc on opposing pitchers.
Urshela was known as a wizard with the glove, but not with the bat owning a career .227 batting average.
But the fourth-year, 28-year old utility man figured it out at the plate last year, hitting to a tune of .314, with 21 home runs and 75 RBIs, all career highs. He became a constant threat, carrying the offensive load for the majority of the season when big-name players went down.
And his defensive production was so crucial to the Yankees success, making an abundance of top plays despite setting a career-high with 13 errors, third-highest on the team.
With Andujar back healthy for whenever the 2020 regular season begins, manager Aaron Boone has a decision to make, but I believe there is nothing in question.
Sports is a game of making the most out of opportunities. If you do not play well enough, or fall victim to an injury, someone else may take your spot and never give it up. We have seen it in every sport on the entire planet.
But Urshela needs to be the starting third baseman, clear as day.
Yes, Andujar had an incredible rookie campaign and still may be that type of player a year removed from the game. He was never a wiz with the glove, as he was being tried at other positions like first base and the outfield, as well as designated hitter, in order to find a way for him to get in as many at-bats as possible, as well as save his arm.
Both players after one season in pinstripes showed they could flat out hit. But on a team with a knack for offense, especially being healthier once the season begins, the glove becomes the more important piece to the puzzle.
What both these players will do this season is pretty unknown as the sample size is very small. Could Urshela just have had a really good season, a depth player that took advantage of pitchers who did not see him as a threat? Was Andujar’s dominant rookie season the best we will see out of him for his career?
These are questions that will only be answered with time, and when baseball resumes. This is a great problem to have as a team that his plagued with injuries, have some much-needed depth.