Yankees: Miguel Andújar deserves more left field time than Clint Frazier

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 18: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees celebrates after scoring against the Texas Rangers in the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on May 18, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 18: Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees celebrates after scoring against the Texas Rangers in the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on May 18, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Yankees’ subpar defensive third base option deserves run in left field more than the man who entered the season as the presumptive starter.

Best laid plans of mice and men, huh?

Looking for a spark — any spark — the Yankees have begun trotting out 2018 Rookie of the Year runner-up Miguel Andújar in left field after Gleyber Torres’ COVID-19 IL stint provided space for his swift promotion.

Andújar’s left field appearances are far from the only surprise going on in the Bombers’ outfield right now; in fact, Tuesday night’s trio of Miggy, Brett Gardner, and Ryan LaMarre was an exercise in remembering some guys.

What’s surprising, though, is that it’s largely working defensively, allowing the ex-infielder’s bat to finally come around in recent days.

Andújar’s 2-for-4 day against bad Texas Rangers pitching, headlined by Mike Foltynewicz, didn’t exactly scream, “I’m back!” like the Michael Jordan fax, and the Yankees famously ignore the “hot hand” typically in favor of their previous plan.

Frazier’s lost season has extended far beyond his bat, though, and Andújar’s “struggles” post-2018 have been due to a shredded shoulder he tried to play through and wildly inconsistent at-bats in a roller-coaster 2020. Perhaps he’s earned a shot?

Yankees LF Miguel Andújar wants a shot over Clint Frazier.

For the first time in a long time, there’s an actual opportunity for Andújar, whose pivots to left field and first base in the wake of his injury and Gio Urshela’s emergence always felt like a sick joke or a placeholder. “Yeah, why don’t you, uh, head over there? Until we trade you? Yeah, that maybe.”

None of us expected left field to be this wide open, though, with DH at-bats to go around, too.

After Tuesday’s win, the first time in a long time where Miggy Two Bags seemed confident, he professed his desire for a shot in the postgame scrum.

"With center fielder Aaron Hicks possibly done for the year with a wrist injury, Brett Gardner age 37 and hitting below .200 and Clint Frazier hitting .151 as the starter in left, a lot of outfield opportunities could be there for Andujar. Until Giancarlo Stanton returns from his quad strain, which may or may not be soon, DH at-bats are up for grabs, too.Andujar has been dying for this realistic chance to get some regular at-bats again, and he feels up for the challenge.“I know I can do the job,” he said. “I know I can contribute to my team. It was just a matter of waiting for the opportunity.”"

Not only has Andújar’s bat been an untapped resource for the Yankees, but it also feels like there’s nothing more to be gleaned from running Frazier out on a daily basis. The presumptive starter needs a complete reset.

Frazier’s struggles are inexplicable, manic, and are leaking into every aspect of his game. His famous bat speed hasn’t helped him make hard contact; Frazier’s average exit velocity falls into the bottom 2% of the entire league (by contrast, Andújar has an exit velocity of 93 MPH to Frazier’s 84.7). From base running blunders to quick-hook ejections, our theoretical young star has really seen and done it all in recent weeks.

All of it bad.

We’re done seeking out logic when it comes to Frazier’s 2021 season, which presents us with a new annoyance every time he steps on the baseball field. Sometimes, the reason for a change goes far beyond underlying metrics — though Frazier’s are among the worst in baseball, so you could easily justify a demotion on numbers alone.

According to Aaron Boone prior to Wednesday night’s game — another Andújar/LaMarre game — Frazier has been experiencing neck issues of some kind. Do we believe that’s the sole reason for his struggles? Do we even believe in the validity of the excuse? Who’s to say, but the absence creates another prime opportunity for Andújar to harness his offense.

The “hot hand” may sometimes be a mirage, but when basic competence has been lacking for so long in a bottom-of-the-lineup black hole, sometimes you have to turn to the guy who’s saying, “I got this” and nod in the affirmative.

Frazier will be back and contributing at some point, whether it be for the New York Yankees or elsewhere. Right now, though, this new position should be Andújar’s job.