Miguel Andujar hits the ball hard. Like, really hard.
The Yankees third baseman has been on a tear this week, with hits in 5 of his last 9 at-bats, dating back to his eighth-inning home run against the Mets Monday. Not only is he getting hits, but they are coming at a speed nearing an Aroldis Chapman fastball.
Before Andujar’s slow groundball to third base in his final at-bat of the Yankees’ 6-1 home loss to the Rays at Yankee Stadium Wednesday evening, his last seven balls in play had been hit at an average of 96.24 miles per hour -- with two hardest ones being outs, according to mlb.com.
He also supplied the Yankees’ lone run Wednesday with his 375-foot home run to left-centerfield that was blasted at an exit velocity of 101 miles per hour. He finished the game 2-for-4 with a double.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game he wasn’t surprised at Andujar’s success, largely because of how hard he hits the ball in the batting cages.
“The first time I saw him step in the cage, I was like ‘That’s special stuff,’” Boone said. “This kid can really hit.”
Andujar has nine extra-base hits in as many games, hitting four doubles, five home runs and totaling 11 RBIs since Aug. 7. He entered Wednesday with a slashline of .364/.400/.818 during the previous eight games.
With his recent performance, the 23-year-old third baseman has not only inserted himself in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation, but might be the current favorite. Andujar now leads all rookies in doubles (34), extra-base hits (55), batting average (.296), RBIs (60) and multi-hit games (38). He is also third amongst rookies with 19 home runs.
Along with Andujar, the rookie of the year conversation centers around Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres and Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani. Torres has slowed as of late, posting a slashline of .122/.241/.306 this month and hitting .258 with 18 home runs and 52 RBIs this season. Ohtani, who had one of the best starts of any player in baseball, hasn’t pitched since June 9 with UCL damage in his elbow and entered Wednesday hitting .271 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs.
But Andujar doesn’t concern himself where he stands in comparison to the rest of the league. He just wants to do his best for the team.
"Anytime you go to home plate, I'm trying to see good pitches, good pitch to hit, try to hit the ball hard and see what happens," Andujar said. "If I have a chance at a double, I take it"
Besides Andujar’s ability to hit the ball as hard as anybody in the league, Boone admires the way the third baseman approaches the game on a daily basis.
“There’s a joy in which he plays the game that I really admire,” the manager said. “He strikes that balance between having a confidence and a swagger about him but with a lot of humility and he’s a really good teammate.”
Said Andujar, "It's part of my goal, play the game hard, try to help my team and be happy and try to win the game."