Pittsburgh Pirates: Miguel Andújar's New Approach at the Plate

Miguel Andújar has changed his approach to the plate

Oct 5, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Miguel Andujar (26)
Oct 5, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Miguel Andujar (26) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Miguel Andújar has changed his approach to the plate, which conributed to him being recalled by the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates recalled Miguel Andújar as part of their September call-ups. It was a questionable decision at the time. Andújar had not produced earlier in the season when he was given a brief appearance, collecting a meager five hits in 33 plate appearances back in late April and early May.

Plus, given that he had barely played from 2019 through 2022, many questioned if he still had anything left to give. After all, he only played 114 games across the four seasons because he missed a ton of time due to injury.

But since his recalling, Andújar has been better at the plate. Through 32 plate appearances, he has 10 hits. Four have gone for extra bases, including three doubles and a homer. He has drawn just one walk but has only struck out four times. Part of this success is due to his change in approach at the plate.

Andújar has always been an ultra-aggressive batter. In his 2018 rookie campaign, where he finished second behind Shohei Ohtani in American League Rookie of the Year voting, Andújar had a 36% chase rate when the league average that season was 26.9%. But even though he swung outside the zone much more often than the average hitter did, he made contact at a decent rate. His chase contact rate was 64.9%, compared to the 57% league average rate. Overall, he made contact 81.9% of the time compared to the league average rate of 76.9%.

Andújar has once again fully embraced this aggressive approach but to an even greater degree. He’s now swinging outside the zone 44.6% of the time when the league average five years later is 31.9%. He’s still maintained a chase contact rate of around 80%, coming in at 79.3% to be exact, which, again, is much greater than the league average rate of 62.3%. The league average contact rate is 76.4%, while Andújar’s since his recalling is 83%.

Nearly all of these are increases from 2018, as well as the first half of the year. When the Pirates first promoted Andújar to the bigs during 2023, he had a 34.4% chase rate, 71.4% chase contact rate, and an 83.3% overall contact rate, which is the only number that hasn’t gone up since the Pirates chose Andújar as one of their September promotions.

Currently, the qualified batter who most closely resembles Andújar in terms of plate discipline is Houston Astros’ utility man Mauricio Dubon. Dubon has a 44.1% chase rate, a 79.7% chase contact rate, as well as an 85.1% overall contact rate. Dubon is hitting .278/.309/.407 on the year with a 96 wRC+. But there is a difference between Dubon and Andújar.

Andújar has decent raw power, whereas Dubon has below-average raw power. Even though Andújar has been super aggressive and is swinging at stuff outside the zone, he’s still able to get a hold of pitches well and has managed a 90 MPH exit velocity and 52.2% hard-hit rate. If Andújar had enough playing time to qualify, he’d be tied with Joc Pederson and just ahead of Yordan Alvarez in hard-hit rate. In comparison, Dubon has an 86.9 MPH exit velo and 29.1% hard-hit rate.

Andújar’s new approach to the plate has brought him success as of right now. There aren’t too many hitters with the same kind of raw power ability as well as his approach in baseball right now. Only time will tell if his approach will keep bringing him the same kind of success at the plate. I, for one, really hope it does, and he can make something of himself after such a rough stretch of seasons after what once was an extremely promising player.

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