In Defense of Andujar
Now, yes, Andujar’s recent hot streak is coming from a small sample size. But he’s looked like a different batter. Andujar is simply making better quality of contact. He has a 91.1 MPH exit velocity, 51.1% hard-hit rate, and 6.9% barrel rate. Compare that to his numbers in April and May of this season, and it’s a major difference.
When he was first given an opportunity, Andujar had a meager 86.4 MPH exit velocity and 26.9% hard-hit rate. His 11.3% barrel rate was the only noticeable downgrade to his recent numbers. However, his launch angle has gone from 0.9 degrees to 11.9 degrees, a whole 11-degree uptick. This is some of the most raw power Andujar has hit for since his standout 2018 rookie campaign when he finished 2nd in Rookie Of The Year voting behind Shohei Ohtani.
It’s also really hard to compare Andujar and Alford outside of just having a really good September. The first thing is that he never showed nearly the same amount of raw power compared to Andujar. Alford had just an 87.6 MPH exit velocity, 41.2% hard-hit rate, and a 7.0 degree launch angle during September 2021. Alford struck out a whole lot more often with a 29.4% strikeout rate, even though he had a respectable 8.2% walk rate. But even though Andujar takes far fewer walks, he has a significantly higher BB:K ratio compared to Alford’s September 2021 run.
Plus, while it’s as easy to knock Andujar for having such a poor walk rate, you have to credit him for not striking out. He’s gone down on K’s just four times, for an 11.4% strikeout rate. That’s an elite K%, especially given how often batters strike out anymore. Lots of contact plus lots of hard contact is a viable strategy.
One last thing to consider is his change in plate approach. He’s a lot more aggressive at the plate. He is swinging outside the strike zone a lot more frequently than he used to. But he’s also making a decent amount of contact even though he’s chasing outside the zone. Considering his raw power, being able to turn on pitches outside the zone is a noteworthy skill.