All the focus is on Shohei Ohtani in the American League Rookie of the Year race. However, more than one New York Yankees player could very well sneak in and steal the prize.
Last year was Aaron Judge’s time to shine and earn the coveted American League Rookie of the Year award. This year, the New York Yankees don’t have a prayer for back-to-back winners with Shohei Ohtani doing it all in Los Angeles.
Uh, wait a minute. That isn’t right. Sure, Ohtani is making waves on the West Coast but the Yankees are right back in this race. In fact, perhaps more importantly, they are the dark horse candidates to sneak in and take the award.
The thing is it isn’t just one player that could do it. The Yankees currently have two rookies on their roster who are tearing up the league, becoming vital cogs in the Bronx machine that is enjoying a red-hot spring.
Gleyber Torres is the 21-year-old phenom with incredible in-game adjustments that make him perhaps one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup. But besides Torres, the Yankees have found that sticking with Miguel Andujar has paid off immensely, as a third baseman with ridiculous pop and swinging for extra bases with reckless abandon.
No, they are not necessarily tackling two separate roles and doing well. Instead, they are taking one job and excelling at it day in and day out.
While the fascination over Ohtani is well-deserved because of his dual roles for the Angels, the rest of the league can’t be blind to what Torres and Andujar are doing in their first full seasons in the Bronx.
Entering Wednesday night’s game, Andujar was already known around the Bronx as a doubles machine. The 23-year-old Dominican Republic native was slashing .305/.330/.542 with seven home runs and 20 doubles entering Wednesday night. He also hit his first career grand slam on Tuesday night in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Jays.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the rookies in the Bronx. Gleyber Torres was brought up a little later but he still is making just as large, if not more, of an impact for this talented team.
Torres is not perfect by any means. He needs some fine-tuning on his defense in order to truly become a superstar in the Bronx. But right now, he’s making his case at the plate and, most specifically, in the middle of his at-bats.
Even when caught off guard in the middle of an at-bat, he doesn’t hesitate to make adjustments and it’s paid off immensely. Prior to Wednesday night’s game, Torres was batting an impressive .298 with 10 home runs. The pop in his bat is a huge surprise from a young kid more known for his defensive prowess.
Not only that, but Torres, who has two walk-off hits this season, has a stellar .342 batting average with runners in scoring position and a .421 batting average when the game is considered “Late & Close” per baseball-reference.com.
This dynamic duo has forced baseball fans to pry their eyes away from the West Coast and take a careful look at these studs. While watching Shohei Ohtani doing an awesome job in two roles is great, both Torres and Andujar are hard to ignore.
Ohtani is batting .289 on the season with six home runs in 34 games played. On the mound, he is 4-1 on the season with a 3.18 ERA. No doubt impressive on all fronts but both Andujar and Torres have done one job and done it incredibly well. That is worthy of some recognition too.
Voters may be blinded by the allure of Ohtani’s multi-tasking abilities but they can’t look away from Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. Watch your back, Ohtani, because as the season starts to close out, objects in the mirror will be closer than they appear.