Let’s Talk Andújar…

I don’t take pleasure in saying I told you so, but after the 2018 season, I’m the guy who said Miguel Andújar needed to be traded, despite his 130 OPS+, 47 double rookie season. His future was clearly not going to be at third base which would decrease the value of his bat, and he swung far too often for his production to be sustainable. Far more importantly, Manny Machado – who was 26 years old and on a clear Cooperstown path at the time – was available as a free agent.

Additionally, Andújar was being vastly overrated by the belief he should have won the Rookie of the Year award in 2018 (even though he wasn’t the best rookie on his own team, let alone better than Shohei Ohtani or Joey Wendle) and the Yankees were in desperate need of a front line starting pitcher.

But like I said, I don’t enjoy being the “I told you so” guy.

Over the weekend, Andújar was optioned to Triple-A Scranton (again) to make room for Giancarlo Stanton, who was returning from an IL stint. After the game, Andújar requested a trade from the Yankees due to the lack of opportunity and the shuffling between the Bronx and Scranton.

My first reaction (like many fans) was “good for him”. Andújar clearly has worked hard on his outfield defense, but he’s run into some bad luck with injuries and with other players filling his potential spots in the lineup. Furthermore – and this is important – Andújar is fun to watch play baseball. He puts the bat on the ball, he runs hard, he runs well, and as I said he’s defense in left field has improved.

But the reason I said that it’s important that he’s fun to watch play baseball, as opposed to a couple of Yankees who hear the fans’ wrath because they are not fun to watch, is because we often conflate a “fun” player with a “good” player. And if we’re being honest, Andújar has not been good for a long time.

So far in 2022, Andújar has a .268/.279/.317 BA/OBP/SLG slash line leading to a 71 wRC+, which is so bad, only Kyle Higashiosaka has a lower wRC+ among Yankees this season. If you want to say that he’s only had 43 sporadic plate appearances, that’s fine but I’ll point out two things: First, he has a 108 wRC+ in Scranton this season in 104 PA, which is very good if you’re a shortstop or catcher – left fielders need to hit more than that.

Secondly, it’s not just 2022. Andújar has not hit well for a very long time. Since 2019 he’s had 319 PA, and posted a .234/.260/.329 triple-slash line with a 62 OPS+. And because he doesn’t add value defensively, his -1.7 WAR over that stretch is simply untenable. For some perspective, 41 players have had more than 300 PA over that span with the majority of their games as left fielders: Andújar’s WAR and OPS+ both rank 40th out of 41.

As I alluded to above, Joey Gallo and Aaron Hicks are not playing well in 2022 and both are not particularly enjoyable to watch, according to many Yankees fans. Yet again, if we’re talking about winning and losing games, fun is irrelevant, and Gallo and Hicks – as bad as they’ve been – have not been worse than Andújar in 2022:

wRC+, 2022:

Hicks 81
Gallo 80
Andújar 71

Ironically, because Hicks and Gallo have played poorly defensively in 2022, the WAR of the three players is essentially the same:

fWAR, 2022:

Andújar 0.1
Hicks 0
Gallo -0.2

Of course, with those numbers, we’re picking fly shit out of pepper, as there really is no difference.

With regards to the idea of just giving regular playing time to Andújar and doing…whatever…with Hicks and Gallo, remember that we’re still talking about only eight weeks of baseball in ’22 and both Hicks and Gallo have significantly better career resumes than Andújar. Even when we include Miggy’s big rookie season from four years ago…

OPS+ since 2018:

Gallo 113
Hicks 110
Andújar 106

WAR per 162 games since 2018:

Gallo 4.0
Hicks 2.9
Andújar 0.8

If you’re the Cincinnati Reds or Kansas City Royals you may be able to justify taking a flyer on Miggy and giving him a full-time job for a couple of months, but the Yankees need to win now. They don’t have the luxury to play wait and see with someone who hasn’t been good for four years – which is putting it mildly because he’s actually been bad for four years.

Two things can be true: We can hope Andújar gets a fair shake somewhere and plays well because as I mentioned, he’s easy to root for on several fronts. That said, there’s no baseball reason to justify keeping him on the Major League roster.

Did I miss something? Let me know. Leave a comment below or hit me up @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and/or the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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