The New York Yankees made a superb move this offseason in keeping youth star Miguel Andujar at first base. While some may complain and reference his 15 errors at the position in 2018, there’s no question that he has the professional attitude and work ethic to improve upon his mistakes.
Andujar has spent a majority of the offseason working on his defense. It wasn’t so much his glove work that needed aid, but rather his judgment and throwing accuracy.
How bad was Andujar for the Yankees at third base?
The Dominican earned a .948 fielding percentage last year, which was tied for second-lowest among 20 MLB players who appeared in a minimum of 100 games at the position.
There were instances where manager Aaron Boone pulled Andujar from third due to his defensive liabilities. In 2019, the expectation will be to lower the number of times Boone has to make that decision if he can’t eliminate that decision at all. Andujar has been working to fix his issues, but one professional season of experience isn’t always the solution. It could take time for him to develop his game in the infield, but the potential for him to be a cornerstone piece is there, and the Yankees must not give up on that reality.
There is a reason GM Brian Cashman elected to pass on Manny Machado – he has faith in Miguel and the rest of the infield. As an alternative, he spent far less money to acquire Troy Tulowtizki and DJ LeMahieu. The two infielders bring five total Gold Gloves with them and plenty of experience to help refine the young infielders already on the roster.
I anticipate both Andujar and Gleyber Torres to gain a ton of knowledge and simple tricks from the veteran duo. Additionally, they provide support in case the two young players struggle defensively. It’s possible we see Andujar fill the designated hitter role at times while LeMahieu features at third.
But, that doesn’t mean the Yanks are giving up on Andujar as their corner defender, just giving him the time he needs to develop and managing his confidence.
Can DJ LeMahieu fill the third base role if need be?
The former Colorado Rockie has 41 games of experience on the corner. He’s started there 24 times – his primary position is second base. I can’t imagine Boone utilizing the veteran at third too much, which really shows his confidence in the young Dominican. I love how the Yankees have approached his defensive struggles, enduring that he remains active and growing over the offseason.