There’s something to be said for Miguel Andujar’s vibrant personality. Manager Aaron Boone raved not just about Andujar the hitter but Andujar the person before Monday night’s series opener against the Braves at the Stadium.
“He’s one of those guys that warms the room,” Boone said. “He’s one of those guys I really look forward to seeing every day because he puts a smile on my face.”
There is reason for Boone to smile when Andujar steps to the plate, too. The 23-year-old extra-base-hit machine was named the American League Rookie of the Month for June on MLB Network on Monday.
In 91 at-bats and 25 games in June, Andujar had a .264/.302/.560 slash line, seven home runs and 20 RBIs, a team high that tied for eighth in the AL. Before Monday’s game, of Andujar’s 77 hits this year, 37 went for extra bases.
Because of Shohei Ohtani’s balky elbow, Gleyber Torres, the Rookie of the Month for May, figures to be Andujar’s primary competition in the Rookie of the Year chase. Remember: Both Yankees didn’t even make the team out of spring training.
Dating to August 2016, when Gary Sanchez was named Rookie of the Month, the Yankees have had seven of the last 11 AL players honored with the distinction. Aaron Judge won it four times in 2017.
A violent swinger with solid contact skills, Andujar has avoided prolonged slumps by adapting to how pitchers attack him.
“I think what’s impressed me about him, though, is just the adjustability, the maturity with his approach,” Boone said. “The ability to, as the league has made a couple different adjustments to him, showing the versatility to handle multiple pitches. He’s done a great job with breaking balls and sliders, when teams have fed him a steady diet. When teams have gone back to the fastball, he’s shown the ability to handle good velocity.”
Andujar could always hit — Boone said he knew that from the get-go — and has progressed on defense, the manager said, even if the stats say otherwise.
FanGraphs ranks Andujar last among 21 qualifying third basemen with an Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of negative-6.8. UZR measures a player’s value relative to an average contributor at the position, with zero representing a league-average fielder. It compares the event that actually happened — such as a hit, out or error — to the data on similarly hit balls in the past.
Even if sabermetrics don’t back up Andujar’s improved glovework, Boone believes in him.
“He continues to get better at it,” Boone said. “He’s proving that he’s a major league defensive third baseman as well as just, he’s not just there because he’s hitting. I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and I think you’ll see him continue to get better over there.”