DJ LeMahieu: A Yankees fan’s reaction to his return

DJ LeMahieu, a Yankee for life, or so it would seem from his 6 year, $90M contract.

I was up early on January 15, 2021 and was among the first to see new that DJ LeMahieu was finalizing a deal with the New York Yankees. This news was soon confirmed and I smiled all day.

DJ LeMahieu, a Yankee for life, or so it would seem, from his 6 year, $90M contract. LeMahieu is the epitome of Yankee greatness, a player focused on performing at the top of his game every time out and focused on winning. His personal success, accolades, and awards only serve to solidify how important his contributions are to the winning culture of the Yankees.

The LeMahieu signing begins to clarify the Yankees infield for 2021. There was a time when impatient Yankee fans speculated that LeMahieu would not be returning and that Gleyber Torres would be moved back to second base where he had been more effective defensively than he was at short stop in his first full season. LeMahieu’s return makes that scenario unlikely, however the rumor mill continues to churn on speculations about what the Yankees might do with Gleyber Torres.

LeMahieu provides elite defense behind the American League’s best pitcher in Gerrit Cole, and profiles to improve on his 2020 defensive numbers, which were down from previous years.

I’ve wondered what effect, if any, Torres’ first year at shortstop might have had on LeMahieu at 2B, contributing, perhaps, to the slight downturn in Fielding Percentage (.971 in 2020 and .993 in 2019) and Defensive Runs Saved (0 in 2020 and 3 in 2019). It will be interesting to see how Torres and LeMahieu perform together in their second year together on the infield.

But it’s the offense of the player nicknamed “LeMachine” that excites Yankee fans. His stoic focus at the plate resulted in a Silver Slugger Award in 2020. He finished third in Most Valuable Player voting, but he has the potential not only to be a MVP candidate again in 2021, but to win it.

Yankee fans across Twitter and Facebook were united in their relief that LeMahieu had at last been signed, knowing that he is the fuse in an offense with explosive power. The 2021 Yankees roster is far from being carved in stone, but with LeMahieu anchoring it, at least Yankee fans know they’ll get a winning attitude, a championship attitude.

DJ LeMahieu: Yankee MVP, AL MVP

LeMahieu is a quiet leader who sets the pace at the top of the yankee lineup.

The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA) announced their American League Most Valuable Player candidates on November 2, 2020. The finalists are Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox, DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees and Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians. Each player had elite numbers in a pandemic-shortened season.

A cursory view of the stats for Abreu, LeMahieu and Ramirez suggests that Abreu and LeMahieu outpaced Ramirez in most statistical categories, such as WAR, batting average, OPS and even DRS. This is really a two-man race.

Abreu and LeMahieu are each at 2.8 WAR for the ’20 season, but that’s where the comparison ends. Abreu had much more slugging power and his 60 RBIs in 60 games is a feat no one else came close to. LeMahieu, on the other hand, was an offensive juggernaut, posting a .364 batting average and winning the batting title. His OPS was an eye-popping 1.011.

Defensively, Abreu was above average with a DRS of 5, while LeMahieu, uncharacteristically, was at the league average of 0. Both Abreu and LeMahieu have been All-Stars and MVP candidates in past seasons and LeMahieu holds six Gold Glove awards.

But no player can rest on their past accolades. Abreu was certainly the MVP of the White Sox in ’20, leading them to their first postseason appearance since 2008. Of course, Rick Renteria, now a Manager of the Year candidate and, surprisingly, ex-manager of the White Sox, had a lot to do with their run into the postseason.

LeMahieu was the offensive catalyst for a powerful Yankee lineup, featuring the league’s home run king for ’20, Luke Voit. LeMahieu is aptly named “Le Machine” by Yankee fans because of his consistently solid at-bats and his high on base percentage. LeMahieu often was the Yankee offense as the team’s heavy hitters were sidelined or hampered by injury.

LeMahieu is a quiet leader who sets the pace at the top of the Yankee lineup. In 2019, he finished fourth in the MVP voting. It’s time for the BBWA to get it right and recognize the excellence of LeMahieu’s contribution to the Yankees and to the league.

New York Yankees “Le Machine” ramping up for Opening Day

Yankee fans began to chant “extend him, extend him”

31 year old DJ LeMahieu, infielder extraordinaire, hails from California with stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Louisiana along the way.  He was drafted in the seventh round out of a Bloomfield Hills, MI high school by the Detroit Tigers in 2007, but elected to go to college and played 2 years for the Louisiana State University Tigers instead.  Wikipedia.

LeMahieu was then drafted by the Cubs in 2009, where he made his major league debut (May 30, 2011) before being traded to the Rockies in 2011.  The rest, as they say, is history,  as he racked up awards and accolades in Colorado, including three Gold Gloves (2014, 2017, 2018) and three Alls-Star appearances, including in his first year with the Yankees in a utility role (2015, 2017, 2019).

LeMahieu’s offensive numbers for the Yankees 2019 were nothing short of astounding for the super utility role he performed: .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs.  According to Wikipedia, “he set new career highs in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and runs scored.”

Yankee fans began to chant “extend him, extend him” during the offseason since he is only signed through the 2020 season.  He has become the quintessential Yankee, earning the nicknames “Big Fundy” for his attention to fundamentals and Le Machine, for his ability to consistently make contact at the plate.

In Spring Training, LeMahieu is off to a slow start, as are most of the Yankee hitters.  He’s currently had 14 PA with 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI and sports a .231 average.  Look out though for LeMahieu to begin to take off in the coming weeks as he’s projected by Baseball Reference to have 586 PA, 89 R, 158 H, 73 RBIs and a .297 average on the 2020 season.

LeMahieu is projected to have another powerful performance for the Yankees in ’20, playing Gold Glove defense at second base, no long in a utility role, and contacting the ball at the plate with consistency and power.