Checking in on Miguel Andujar’s Defense

A scouting report is not a foregone conclusion. For example, the two best Yankee catching prospects in recent years had similar profiles. Both Gary Sanchez and Jesus Montero would absolutely crush major league pitching, but might not be able to stick behind the plate defensively. It turned out Sanchez excels at both hitting and catching, while Montero excels at neither.

Miguel Andujar is a third baseman but shared a similar scouting summary with Sanchez and Montero: good bat, questionable glove. The Tigers questioned his glove repeatedly in the 7th inning of yesterday’s 8-6 Yankee victory. Victor Martinez, JaCoby Jones, and Jose Iglesias all tested the young third baseman. Andujar’s defense was a major factor in the outcome of the inning, so it’s a good a case study to judge the early returns on his glove.

Victor Martinez Double

After a leadoff single by Nick Castellanos, Martinez smoked a hard ground ball inside the bag. After an overthrow by Brett Gardner, Martinez found himself at third base. Score it an RBI double, with the batter advancing to third on the E7. Here are some of the Statcast metrics for the batted ball:

Exit Velocity Launch Angle Distance
xBA based on Launch Speed/Angle
100.5 -2.821 31 .375

This was not an easy play by any means. Anything with triple-digit exit velo is tough to glove. Luck of defensive positioning is a big factor as well. Still, with an xBA of .375, this batted ball is usually an out. The Arenado/Beltre/Donaldson level third baseman probably snags it, but Andujar does not.

JaCoby Jones Lineout

Following a sacrifice fly, Jones sends a screaming line drive toward third. With fortunate positioning and quick reflexes, Andujar stabbed it cleanly for the second out of the inning.

Exit Velocity Launch Angle Distance
xBA based on Launch Speed/Angle
104.8 6.883 128 .693

Andujar should be proud of this one. This ball was crushed 4.3 MPH harder than the Martinez double, and the 7° launch angle meant neither ground nor air would slow it down. 104.8 MPH equates to 154 ft/second, and our protagonist made the play 128 ft from the plate. Therefore, he caught the ball only 0.83 seconds after contact. A liner such as this is a base hit nearly 70% of the time, but Andujar turned it into an out. Nicely done.

Jose Iglesias Double

The next batter was Iglesias, who hit a ground ball to Andujar’s right. The third baseman dove toward the foul line and deflected the ball with his glove, but could not prevent it from rolling into the outfield.

Exit Velocity Launch Angle Distance
xBA based on Launch Speed/Angle
80.8 -15.6 10 .111

If the Jones line drive was Andujar’s best, the Iglesias double is his worst. This was not a hard hit ball. It was basically a regular chopper toward third base. While it would have been a pretty good-looking play had he completed it successfully, only 1 time out of 9 is this kind of grounder a base hit. Anecdotally, as I watched the play on TV I thought it could have easily been scored an E5 instead of a double. Iglesias failed to score in the inning, but Andujar probably should’ve made him the third out.


In conclusion, there is no conclusion. As stated on FanGraphs glossary page for UZR:

“Beware of sample sizes! If a player only spent 50 innings at a position last season, it’d be a good idea not to draw too many conclusions from their UZR score over that time. Like with any defensive statistic, you should always use three years of UZR data before trying to draw any conclusions on the true talent level of a fielder.”

If 50 innings is too small a sample to make sense of defensive value, one inning certainly won’t cut it. Furthermore, there are two aspects of defense that are equally important for third basemen: fielding and throwing. Andujar had three chances to field the ball in this inning, but no chances to use his arm.

What we did learn is that Andujar might need to work on his consistency with ground balls to his right. Perhaps he needs to position himself better before the play or maybe he needs to get a quicker jump on the ball. Then again, maybe he’s fine. We can’t really know for sure until we see him play a lot more.

Andujar hit a double and a triple in four trips to the plate. If he keeps racking up extra-base hits of his own, the Yankees will give us lots more chances to see what he can do in the field.

Related Articles

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username