2019 Projection: Is Miguel Andujar Heading Towards A Sophomore Slump?

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The Yankees Miguel Andujar will likely be a popular target this season, and his current average NFBC ADP of 70.16 supports that.  Is he a player worth being selected within the first six rounds?  If you simply looked at the numbers from his rookie campaign (and many believe he deserved to win the Rookie of the Year Award) you would call it a given:

573 At Bats
.297 Batting Average (170 Hits)
27 Home Runs
92 RBI
83 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.328 On Base Percentage
.527 Slugging Percentage
.316 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Is it fair to assume that these numbers are repeatable, or could a sophomore swoon be in the cards?  Let’s take a look:

Power
While the 27 HR are impressive and playing in Yankee Stadium is going to help a lot of that production came from one big month, as he hit 10 HR over 30 games in August.  In fact he had two months where he had HR/FB north of 22.5% (he also hit 7 HR in June), with the other four months being 11.5% or lower. 

It is possible that he’s developing, maturing and adding some power.  That said, look at some of his recent HR/FB:

  • High-A (251 PA) – 2016 – 13.2%
  • Double-A (319 PA) – 2016 – 2.2%
  • Double-A (272 PA) – 2017 – 11.1%
  • Triple-A (250 PA) – 2017 – 14.8%

Can we really expect a big jump over his overall mark?  No last year’s mark would be fair, bringing a projection in the 25-28 HR range. Assuming he’s going to take a significant step forward would appear to be misguided despite adding 47 doubles last season.

Average
This is going to be seen as his strength, though there are significant concerns moving forward.  One is going to be his approach, which was fairly abysmal despite a 16.0% strikeout rate:

  • SwStr% – 9.6%
  • O-Swing% – 39.4%

Chasing outside of the strike zone obviously didn’t prove to cost him in terms of contact, but how much hard contact will he be able to maintain?  As it is his Hard% was 36.0% and there’s definitely risk that it falls as pitchers start throwing him fewer and fewer pitches within the strike zone.  Throw in some popup issues (14.5%) and the combination is going to make it tough to maintain an elevated BABIP.

Then you have the risk that he is starting to get home run happy, especially after his explosion n August.  Just look at his fly ball rate by month:

  • April – 38.8%
  • May – 23.7%
  • June – 39.7%
  • July – 31.0%
  • August – 35.3%
  • September – 45.3%

It is a small sample size, but if that September fly ball rate continues it is going to further limit the potential upside in his BABIP.

2019 Projection
.278 (146-525), 26 HR, 85 RBI, 80 R, 4 SB, .296 BABIP, .313 OBP, .495 SLG

Those are solid numbers and there’s a chance that he outperforms them.  However he’s the epitome of the old adage of the risk outweighing the reward, as it’s also very easy to envision a home run happy hitter chasing outside the strike zone and struggling mightily.  At that price point, where you can get players like Marcell Ozuna or a solid starting pitcher (German Marquez, Jose Berrios, Miles Mikolas), it makes sense to go in another direction. 

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, NFBC

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