In my opinion, Miguel Andujar is more deserving of the AL ROY Award and should win it ahead of the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.
Major League Baseball’s Awards week begins this evening with the announcement of the AL and NL Rookies of the Year. Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is a near lock in the National League while the American League figures to be more competitive.
In the early returns, it appears Ohtani is garnering more votes. Those who favor the Japanese star cite his ability to both hit and pitch. His supporters point out that Ohtani’s offensive numbers are similar to Andujar’s despite missing an amount of time due to injury. Ohtani’s numbers are similar, but not better.
This is not an indictment of Ohtani as a player, I just feel Andujar is more deserving of the award and I’ll try and explain why in this column.
You need to examine the impact that each player made on his respective team. Putting aside the season win totals for the Angels and Yankees, and taking into account the games that each player participated in, who did more to help his team win.
Let’s start with the overall numbers:
Andujar: 149 games, 170 hits, 47 2B, 2 3B, 27 HRS, 92 RBI’s, 25 BB’s, 97 K’s (.297/.328/.527)
Ohtani: 104 games (as a hitter), pitched 10 games, 93 hits, 21 2B, 2 3B, 22 HRS, 61 RBI’s, 37 BB’s, 102 K’s (.285/.361/.564)
Baseball-Reference.com breaks up the season into two halves. In the second half, Andujar played 65 games and Ohtani appeared in 59 games. Due to circumstances, Andujar played in more meaningful games during that time. The slash line for each in the second half:
Andujar: 267 AB’s (.319/.345/.575) OPS: .919
Ohtani: 188 AB’s (.287/.357/.596) OPS:
Andujar hit more home runs but you want to say that Ohtani would’ve hit more if he had more at-bats. That’s a fair assessment but let’s break down the home run totals some more.
Andujar hit 16 home runs at Yankee Stadium and 11 on the road, so he didn’t just benefit from the friendly dimensions in the Bronx. Ohtani’s split was 15 at Angels Stadium and 7 on the road.
When he was down in the count, Ohtani hit two home runs, Andujar hit 14. With runners on base, Andujar hit 15 home runs, Ohtani had 10. They both hit the same amount of home runs (20) against right handed pitching while Ohtani, a left handed hitter, only had two home runs against left handers.
In divisional games, Andujar hit 14 home runs vs AL East teams, while Ohtani had 8 home runs (none vs. Houston) against AL West competitors. 15 of Andujar’s home runs came with a runner on base, Ohtani had 10.
During the season, Andujar was a tougher out than Ohtani. When they were behind in the count, Ohtani hit .144 while Andujar was at .277. On an 0-2 count, Andujar hit .297, Ohtani .172. In the 9th inning, when facing a closer or some of the better arms from opposing pitching staffs, Andujar hit .419. Ohtani was not bad with a .314 average. The Angels DH hit .350 with RISP, while Andujar batted .294 but had 46 more at-bats.
Now lets’ go to WAR.
Acc to Fangraphs, “WAR is not meant to be a perfectly precise indicator of a player’s contribution, but rather an estimate of their value to date.” My interpretation of the stat is that it measures a player’s individual talent but doesn’t transcend to how his talent transcends to the team’s success.
In 2018, Ohtani had a 3.9 WAR which was way higher than Andujar’s 2.2. Wow! That number is much higher so that means Ohtani’s season meant more to his team than Andujar’s. Not really.
Andujar was sub par defensively as a third baseman, that’s a fact and would bring his WAR number down. I’m not in tune with a stat that I don’t really subscribe to but I assume the fact that Ohtani hits and pitches would help increase his overall WAR number. Except for the ten games that he pitched, Ohtani was a DH and never played the field. Why should Andujar be penalized when Ohtani is not even subjected to that parameter. Ohtani had some good outings on the mound but I wouldn’t categorize it as pitching like an “ace” as some have said.
Another factor that works against Andujar is a “NY bias.” Yes, it does exist among out of town voters. There are some who will not back Andujar because he played for the Yankees.
Ohtani was a marvel in that he could hit and pitch in the major leagues but you have to ask how beneficial that really was for the team. Remember, the Angels catered to Ohtani’s schedule. He had to be rested before he pitched and afterwards, which limited his time to hit. By the time Ohtani returned from injury, the Angels’ were out of the race so their custom schedule for one player did not come into play.
Andujar’s impact on the Yankees was more significant in that he became one of their best hitters who didn’t just rely on home runs to be productive.
I rest my case.