New York Yankees: Is Gio Urshela really a better defender than Miguel Andujar at 3rd base?

Alexander Wilson
New York Yankees, Gio Urshela
Apr 7, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela (29) throws to first base during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at New York Yankees‘ third basemen Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar’s defensive production in comparison:

The Yankees didn’t give Miguel Andujar a real opportunity to secure the hot corner in his young career. After just one season, an injury forced him out and allowed incumbent Gio Urshela to take hold of the third-base position.

Andujar was realistically a problem in 2018 at the position, playing in 136 games, amounting to 1169.1 innings. He allowed 15 errors and earned a .948 fielding percentage. Overall, his defensive production was lackluster, but his offense allowed him to earn second place for Rookie of the Year, just behind Shohei Ohtani.

However, when looking at Urshela compared to Andujar at third base, the defensive stats are eerily similar from a broad view. In 2019, Gio played in 123 games, amounting to 978.1 innings. He allowed 13 errors and earned a .954 fielding percentage. While he did make numerous flashy plays over the course of the season, his efficiency wasn’t much better than Andujar’s over about 13 fewer games.

The average fielding percentage at third base in 2019 was .958, which Andujar scored below. This would indicate that he is, in fact, a below-average defender at the position, but his offense, as well as Andujar‘s, came in handy. He posted a .314 BA last season, tallying 21 home runs, 74 RBIs, and striking out 87 times over 442 at-bats.

In comparison, Urshela had a marginally better season than Andujar defensively in 2019 compared to 2018. However, the major statistic that can’t be left out is defensive runs saved above average. In essence, this shows the number of runs that both players helped reduce over the course of the season. Urshela was by far the better player in that category, allowing six additional runs while Andujar cost the Yankees 22 runs due to his poor play. That is a significant difference and could be the contrast between winning and losing during the playoffs.

Another major issue for Andujar was turning double plays, as he only logged six in 2018 while Andujar hit on 20 last season in fewer games. There’s no question here that Urshela is the better defender, and the Yankees made the right choice by plugging him in and moving Andujar to left field. Hopefully, the Yankees can still extract the most value from the youth prospect in the left-field position, as he was problematic at third base and could not be trusted any longer.

However, they did cut him relatively short in his reps and is a Decent back up to have in case of injury.