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Miguel Andujar's hard work puts him in Rookie of Year conversation

The third baseman eschews individual awards, but his hitting makes him a favorite in the American League.

The Yankees' Miguel Andujar high-fives in the dugout

The Yankees' Miguel Andujar high-fives in the dugout after scoring on a hit by Giancarlo Stanton during a game against the Twins on Monday. Photo Credit: AP/Jim Mone

MINNEAPOLIS — The list of impressive numbers for Miguel Andujar’s rookie season seems endless.  

Entering Wednesday night the 23-year-old third baseman led MLB rookies in average (.299), hits (153), doubles (40), RBI (79), extra-base hits (65) and OPS (.853), multi-hit games (48), and he was tied with teammate Gleyber Torres in homers with 23.

The 65 extra-base hits are the third-most in a season by a Yankees rookie, behind the 88 Joe DiMaggio had in 1936 and the 79 Aaron Judge put up last season. He has 67 extra-base hits in 138 games (Andujar had two doubles in five games last season as a call-up), the third most through 138 games in Yankees history behind DiMaggio’s 88 and Bob Meusel’s 70. When he doubled in Monday’s victory over the Twins, Andujar became the first Yankee to record 40 doubles in a season since Robinson Cano in 2013.

It has been a remarkably consistent season, one lacking the usual lengthy slumps to which all players, especially rookies, are prone.

And perhaps this one statistic represents that consistency best: The longest Andujar has gone this season without a hit is three games. It’s happened three times, most recently on this trip when he went hitless Sept. 3 and 4 in Oakland, then Sept. 7 at Seattle.

And, like the previous two times he went into such a “slump,” Andujar bounced back.

He went 7-for-17 over his next four games, including a two-hit effort in Tuesday’s 10-5 loss.

“He’s just such a good hitter,” Aaron Boone said. “He’s been such a good player for us, so many big hits . . . right in the middle of our lineup.”

Though Torres will get some consideration for the American League Rookie of the Year, as will two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, Andujar has emerged as the favorite despite the fielding issues he's had at times.

Not that such an award is on the rookie’s mind.

“The goal was never individual achievements,” Andujar said earlier this week through his translator. "From the beginning it was to focus, play hard and try to win a championship. To have the opportunity to come up here and to be able to win one in the first year would be great. From the beginning it was always to work hard and try to win it all.”

A beginning to his career that nearly didn’t happen. At least, not this season.

Andujar entered spring training as one of a handful of competitors for the starting job at third, but it became a competition for a utility role when the Yankees traded for Brandon Drury.

Andujar welcomed Drury at the time and simply went back to work, which included showing up early just about every day in the spring to get in extra work in the field with infield coach Carlos Mendoza.

Then, when Drury went to the disabled list April 7, Andujar took over at third that day and seized the job. He had one hit April 7 against Baltimore, the start of a 16-game stretch in which he hit .369 with three homers, 12 doubles and a 1.105 OPS.

While Andujar, signed as an international free agent in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic, has downplayed Rookie of the Year talk, he did acknowledge feeling good about his numbers.

“Whenever you put up numbers like that, you look up at the stats, they show the work, the work I’ve been putting in,” Andujar said. “A lot of work in the minor leagues, here as well. Now the focus is to continue doing that and to finish strong.”

New York Sports

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