It’s not time for the Yankees to start panicking about Miguel Andujar’s poor start to the season, but it is time for Aaron Boone to be concerned.
The Yankees are playing good baseball currently as a team, but the same can’t be said about Miguel Andujar. The second-year third baseman is enduring a nightmare season. He’s never been a good fielder, but this year his performance at the plate has been truly dismal.
To put it bluntly, it’s time for the organization to be concerned. Optimistic Yankees fans can point to the fact that Andujar only has 35 at-bats on the season due to the time he missed with a torn labrum. In fairness, that is a rather small sample size. Even so, hitting for an average of .143 with a grand total of one run and one RBI on the campaign is an exceedingly poor return for a hitter with his talent.
The need for the organization to be concerned about Andujar stems more from how he’s looked at the plate recently. It’s not as if he’s making solid contact only to be robbed by exceptional defensive plays. He’s absolutely flailing at hittable pitches at the moment. There’s always a chance that he can break out of his slump soon, but he doesn’t look anywhere near a breakthrough at the moment.
If Andujar isn’t hitting at a near-elite level, he’s not worth much to the Yankees. His defense at third base continues to be a major concern about his long-term career prospects. The injury to his labrum has prevented him from getting a chance to show whether or not he fixed some of his issues in the offseason, but even if he did, it’s unlikely he’ll ever be anything better than average at the hot corner.
Fortunately for general manager Brian Cashman and company, Gio Urshela has come out of nowhere to fill in for Andujar. He’s arguably the team’s top hitter at the moment. Some fans would give that nod to D.J. LeMahieu, but Urshela’s stellar play is undeniable. His emergence gives the Yankees and Andujar time to get back on track.
The natural question now is what can the Yankees realistically do with Andujar. The bold move would be to send him back to the Minors to work on his craft in an environment with less pressure. That sort of move would bruise Andujar’s ego, but it would give him the best chance to come back to the Majors in good form relatively quickly. Last year showed he has the talent to be an All-Star caliber hitter, but for whatever reasons things just aren’t clicking for him at the moment.
No matter what path the Yankees chose with Andujar, they need to reduce his playing time in the short-term. He’s hurting his team at the plate right now. The team can’t afford to keep trotting him out there every day while hoping he’ll rediscover his swing. The Yankees don’t have that kind of margin for error given the litany of injuries that currently plague their roster.