There have been numerous third basemen that have gotten off to slow starts. Yes, I’m talking specifically about you, Josh Donaldson! I own him in a keeper league, and he’s missed time each of the past few seasons, and he already has been shelved once in 2018. Luckily, in the later rounds of drafts I was keeping in an eye on third base depth and drafted Miguel Andujar in all of my leagues. As soon as I heard he was the front-runner for the third base job, I put an emphasis on obtaining him in all of my leagues. We all knew what this Yankees offense could do, and early on we are seeing them produce. He’s spent time hitting in the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth slots, and Sunday saw him hit his fourth home run hitting in the six hole. With guys such as Gardner, Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez having the ability to be on-base when Andujar comes up to the plate, the chances for RBI will always be there. He’s been dismal hitting lefties only slashing .194/.231/.306, but I suspect we will see those numbers, against lefties, increase as the season progresses. He’s currently on pace for 20 home runs and 70+ RBI, and this is the perfect type of production for a guy that was drafted late or added off waivers. This week, I want to focus on the depth Andujar has provided fantasy teams in “That’s Amore!” Buying Into Miguel Andujar.
Early on, Andujar has been a solid option for not only the utility spot(s), but for the third base position as well. In 147 at-bats he’s slashed .286/.296/.483 with four home runs, 16 RBI, and one stolen base. He’s managed to stay away from strikeouts only striking out in just over 20% of at-bats, but the walks have been non-existent only drawing three. Other than not drawing walks, the only other knock would be his low numbers against left-handed pitching (.194/.231/.306/0 HR/1 RBI). Still, he will have enough time to make the necessary adjustments so he doesn’t start losing playing time when a lefty is on the bumper. Among qualified rookies he’s top-seven in games played, third in at-bats, second in hits, third in runs scored, and fifth in batting average. There is no reason to think he’s in line to see a decrease in at-bats, and he’s easily someone we can rely on hitting in this Yankees lineup.
One thing that stands out for me his Andujar’s ability to use the entire field. While his Pull% is at a respectable 48.7%, he has just as respectable numbers hitting the ball up the middle (26.1 Cent%) and the other way (25.2 Oppo%). One thing I’d like to see him improve on is his GB/FB. He currently has a 1.51 GB/FB, and sits at the following percentages: 19.1 LD%, 48.7 GB%, and 32.2 FB%. If he could make better contact percentage on batted balls, and increase his LD% a few points, and limit the ground balls, we could easily see in uptick on his .296 OBP. His OBP is poor, and if he could even get it to an average range of .320 we could see him in line to not only drive in more runs, but set himself up in scoring position to score more runs. There’s no question this lineup can hit top-to-bottom, and the ability to get on-base more frequently will only increase the likelihood of one of the Yankees hitters driving him in.
What adjustments can be made to allow more line drives than ground balls? 53, of 147, at-bats have gone to 1-2 and 2-2 counts. The advantage of these at-bats (36%) have gone to the pitcher, and more times than not he will see a breaking ball out of the zone, or an undesirable fastball in, around the hands or eye-level. The frequency of making solid contact, against these pitches, goes out the door and weak contact, if contact at all, has high odds. These outcomes could be directly correlated to his 21.7 Soft% and 40.9 Med%. While his 37.4 Hard% is up from the small sample in 2017, there has been an increase in Soft% (7.4%) and decrease in Med% (16.2%). As we all know, hitting is a game of adjustments, and I guarantee Marcus Thamses will work with Andujar on not only jumping on likeable pitches early in the count, but working himself into more hitter-friendly counts. As I mentioned earlier, 36% of his at-bats have gone to 1-2 or 2-2 counts, and being able to stay away from these counts will allow him to see better pitches to hit. While hitting in those counts have only seen slash lines of .222/.222/.333 and .192/.192/.308, there will also be emphasis on becoming a better two-strike pitcher. Now, I’m not suggesting he needs to be as good of a two-strike hitter as Joey Votto, but shortening up his two-strike stroke, and looking to place the ball up the middle, or the other way, will only aid on helping Andujar in these undesirable counts.
So, we’ve seen solid production from Andujar, but there are still adjustments to be made for the Yankees rookie third baseman. The numbers have been solid, and definitely desirable for a late-round picks, waiver wire addition, or a fill-in due to dismal starts from third basemen you figured would carry your team all season long. Still, there are adjustments to be made. The .296 OBP needs to see an increase, and the two-strike numbers need to be better. Not only will getting on-base more, and doing so by drawing more walks, allow him to drive in, and score, more runs, but this could lead to more attempts for steals. In the minors, he was never a guy to accumulate a high number of stolen bases, but my thinking is simple. If he’s on-base at the heart of the Yankees lineup comes up, there could be desirable counts, and pitches, that allow Andujar to get the green light. Stealing bases is solely correlated to speed, but being smart on your reads. If he puts in the time, and effort, to become an efficient base stealer, we could, without a question, see double-digit stolen bases in the near horizon.
Andujar is near the top in all rookie categories, and the at-bats will keep coming throughout the season. Currently on pace for 20 home runs and 70 RBIs, he could be in store for even more production given the adjustments I’d like to see him make, and most notably against left-handed pitchers. Still, he’s not striking out against them, and balls will start to find grass the more he faces them. I’ve been content with what I’ve seen from Andujar, and he could be one of the better rookie acquisitions as the season progresses.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 20th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #121 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Andy Macuga former Head Coach of Borrego Springs High School in San Diego. Andy is also a veteran owner in Major League Fantasy Sports leagues covering baseball and football.