Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I am a HUGE Miguel Andujar fan. I heard great things about him while he was a minor leaguer, but my fandom was solidified when I saw him debut against the White Sox in 2017. Unfortunately for him, he was not up very long, but boy did that 3-4, 4 RBI performance get fans excited!
I wrote a piece on Andujar a while back (which seems to have vanished from the Talkin’ Yanks website) and discussed the kind of potential he had. Since that time, he has exceeded expectations. It is one thing for scouts to get something right, but it is amazing when Yankees Twitter is correct. I have seen the craziest takes and mob mentality on who should be playing, released, fired, etc. Pardon my French, but sometimes those 13-year olds with pictures of players as their avatars get a little crazy (subtle jab at those of you who can be described that way and are older than 13). With that being said, how on earth did the Yanks Twitter mob get Andujar right?
It’s an easy answer: he’s familiar. That may sound a little strange but bear with me for a second as I explain this by giving examples of guys Twitter is 50/50 on or flat wrong about.
Aaron Hicks is a player Yankees fans have grappled with since he came over to New York. Highly touted prospect, lots of tools, incredible arm. When it comes to batting, Hicks has been inconsistent throughout his career. Finally, he seems to have come into his own, but even with his current success, many still doubt his long-term value. This inconsistency means anyone with a take on Hicks only has a 50% chance of getting it right. Our very own Jake Storiale has admitted to getting Hicks wrong. I’ll defend Jakester a bit here by telling him it isn’t his fault. Aaron Hicks flat out fooled Jake (and MANY others). And it wasn’t a “you’re dumb if you didn’t know Hicks would be good” fooling, it was one of the best magic acts I’ve seen on a baseball diamond. Criss Angel would be proud.
Aaron Hicks’ magic wand is his guess hitting. A lot of people have either never heard of it, or do not fully grasp the concept. It gets a bad rap by some because they believe a batter goes up and literally rolls the dice in his head, sees the number that comes up, and sticks with that pitch. Not how it works. When Aaron Hicks takes his at bat, he comes up having a scouting report in his mind. Based on that report, the count, game situation, and overall feel, Hicks will decide which pitch and location is coming his way, and he will sit on it. I am not even doing it full justice with that description. Guess hitting is much more involved than what I shared. Most players go into full guess mode on 2 strike counts, but plenty will do it for the entirety of the at bat (Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Manny Ramirez just to name a few).
What happens when you guess wrong? You miss the pitch. What happens when you guess wrong a lot? You miss a lot of pitches. Aaron Hicks’ up and down career can be explained by his guess hitting approach. And because he isn’t as good as those other three hitters I mentioned, it is hard to say how well he will perform throughout a season. Having a long-term take on Hicks, and most guess hitters, is a difficult task.
Another guy Yankees Twitter is passionate about is Greg Bird. Remember when he was the first baseman of the future? Yeah. Good times…
How did fans miss on Greg Bird? Once again, it was a lack of understanding about the type of hitter he is. Yes, he has suffered injuries, but you have to look past that now. Bird has the prototypical lefty power hitter swing. It is a complete upper cut with almost 100% of his power coming from the bottom half. These types of hitters do not have great averages, strike out a lot, and are prone to going into deep slumps (think Adam Dunn as an extreme example). Right now, Bird can only hit low and inside pitches; he’s even missing balls right down the middle. Go back and read scouting reports. While Bird had overall success in the minors, it was noted that he often found himself in slumps which lasted more than one week.
Once again, if fans understood the type of swing Bird brings to the plate, a more accurate take on him would have been widespread. This isn’t an article about Greg Bird, but I’ll just add that as long as he is a Yankee, we can expect big shifts in production from him unless he changes the approach.
What does this all have to do with Miguel Andujar? Well, he’s an easy read. Miggy isn’t a guess hitter, and he doesn’t have a loopy swing. It’s flat and stays through the zone longer than anyone on the team. If you are going to teach someone how to swing a bat, you would show them clips of his swing. The average baseball fan can look at Andujar and say, “Yep. That guy can hit.”
The vast majority of people did not play baseball past high school, where a lot of these other approaches to hitting are learned. Can anyone here say they were taught how to guess hit or swing like Greg Bird? I certainly can’t. We were all taught to swing flat, or even at a downward angle (gross, don’t ever teach someone to swing down). Is it any surprise, then, that we aren’t good at predicting how players like Hicks or Bird will perform throughout a season, but can more accurately predict Andujar?
Miggy has been the most consistent batter for the Yankees. He hasn’t been injured and his batting average has stayed in the high .200s all year. It is so refreshing to watch a guy like him play in an era of walks, strikeouts, and home runs. Imagine where this team would be without him.
So let’s give ourselves a pat on the back. We got Miguel Andujar right. Even if it is because we’re too dumb to know any better.