DJ LeMahieu has not slowed down since his MVP-caliber inaugural season with the New York Yankees and must be retained.
With his two-year deal coming to an end at the conclusion of this season, the Yankees must prioritize re-signing him.
LeMahieu had already been a solid hitter throughout his career when the Yankees acquired him last year. In 955 career games with the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, he slashed .298/.350/.406 with a .757 OPS and 92 OPS+. He additionally recorded 49 home runs and 349 RBIs.
During that span, from 2011-18, LeMahieu was a two-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and was the National League batting champion in 2016.
LeMahieu has always been able to get it done on both sides of the ball, and that’s what made him so appealing to the Yanks.
But upon arriving in New York, LeMahieu took his game to an entirely new level.
Through 145 appearances in 2019, his first season in the Bronx, LeMahieu slashed .327/.375/.518 while recording an OPS of .893 and OPS+ of 136. DJ also notched career-highs in both home runs (26) and RBIs (102).
He was an All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and finished fourth in American League MVP voting. LeMahieu’s outstanding performance last year earned him the nickname “LeMachine.”
He was even excellent for the Yankees in the playoffs, despite the fact that they couldn’t make it past the American League Championship Series.
Most didn’t expect LeMahieu to repeat what he did last season in 2020, but so far, he’s somehow improved.
Even after contracting COVID-19 and needing to recover in time for the commencement of the season, LeMahieu has slashed an incredible .431/.479/.569 with a 1.048 OPS and just six strikeouts through 17 games.
His batting average is good for first in the American League.
LeMahieu is valuable to the Yankees for a variety of reasons, and that’s why they must re-sign him without thinking twice. He’s versatile in that he can play numerous positions and is the team’s best defensive infielder.
With regard to the batter’s box, he proved last year that he’s capable of hitting for power but, most importantly, hitting for average as well, and does that better than most in the league.
The Yankees possess a reputation for being a power-hitting lineup, which carries its pros and cons. That’s come back to bite them in the past, especially in the playoffs. Thus, employing a player like LeMahieu who primarily hits for average is absolutely necessary.
Additionally, LeMahieu is an incredibly valuable leadoff hitter because he consistently gets on base. There’s almost nothing he can’t do, and the Yankees are a different team when he’s in the lineup as well as in the field.
The benefits he brings to the team become even more significant during the playoffs and it’s difficult to see the Yankees winning any time soon without him.
LeMahieu is 32 years old, so the deal the Yankees offer him shouldn’t be long-term. Nevertheless, they must lock him up for the near future.