New York Yankees need to get Miguel Andujar as many at bats as possible

The Yankees need to find a way to keep Miguel Andujar in the lineup.

Miguel Andujar played in just 12 games last year after suffering a torn rotator cuff. The year prior, he was arguably robbed of the American League Rookie of the Year Award to Shohei Ohtani. Andujar hit .297 with a .855 OPS in 2018, roping 47 doubles, the second-most in the AL that season.

Due to his injury last year, the Yankees picked up Gio Urshela, who suddenly became one of the team’s best players all of last season. Urshela slashed .314/.355/.534 in his first full big-league season while playing stellar defense, something that Andujar notably does not have.

But what Andujar does have is a major-league bat, which has been known for several years now.

On the contrary, one more thing that Andujar does not have is a solidified spot on this Yankees team.

Miguel Andujar can be a big part of the Yankees’ success in 2020.

Andujar has 166 professional games under his belt, all as either the third baseman or the designated hitter. In spring training, Andujar was testing his hand in left field. In Tuesday’s intrasquad game, Andujar played left again.

The Yankees have seemed to have their A-lineup as one of their teams in their intrasquad matchup, with Urshela listed as the third baseman in each. Andujar has been a member of the “Bombers” in each of the two scrimmages, as he played third on Monday.

All signs point that the Opening Day third baseman job is Urshela’s to lose. Luke Voit will be manning first base, another idea that has been out there for Andujar. Mike Ford is a more-than-serviceable backup, as he racked up a .909 OPS in his first big-league stint last year. Ford also is a left-handed bat made for the short porch.

Andujar’s most likely paths to getting at bats are either as an outfielder or a designated hitter.

Let’s knock the easy part out of the way: Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge are playing every day.

In an ideal world, Giancarlo Stanton is healthy and is in the lineup every day, too.

The question is, in what capacity?

Brian Cashman mentioned Stanton is still a bit far off from playing the field every day, but Stanton said he hopes it is an option this year. To start the year, Stanton will DH.

That leaves the left spot open, but potentially for four players: Andujar, Brett Gardner, Mike Tauchman, and Clint Frazier.

Gardner set career-highs in home runs (28), RBI (74), and OPS (.829) last year in his age-35 season. Tauchman posted a .865 OPS in a career-high 87 games, including a .325/.403/.584 slash line in his final 48 games of the season. Frazier, although talented offensively, has his own fair share of defensive, and public relations, woes that have hurt his chances of being an every day major leaguer, even though he might be the most talented player of that group.

But, aside from Gardner, Andujar in the only one of that group to post legitimate production in a full season. Frazier and Tauchman have played just 123 and 139 major league games, respectively.

Gardner, however, has been the A-team left-fielder in these intrasquad matchups.

Of course, it is no secret that Hicks, Judge, and Stanton have had their fair share of injuries, playing in just a combined 179 games last year. Manager Aaron Boone may do as much as he can to give them some off days, which also ensures that Andujar will get playing time.

Even if Urshela needs a day off, the Yankees could easily slide DJ LeMahieu to third and throw Tyler Wade at second.

The Yankees’ depth is a gift, but Andujar not having a regular spot on this team could be a curse.

But maybe the Yankees have their version of Ben Zobrist.

No matter the case, Andujar’s bat has proven to be too talented to not give at bats to and the Yankees need to find a way to make him a prevalent force in their lineup.

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