DJ LeMahieu had a strong bounceback season for the Yankees

After re-signing with the Yankees on a six-year contract, DJ LeMahieu muddled by a down 2021 season. The energy stroke he all of the sudden flashed over his first two years in New York vanished, and questions abounded about the infielder’s standing. If LeMahieu regressed closely in the first yr of his new deal, what did that portend about his long-term future with the Yankees?

LeMahieu returned in 2022 to reply most of these lingering questions. When wholesome, he was one in all the membership’s most useful gamers on either side of the ball, operating a strong batting line and offering top-tier protection at a number of positions. That mentioned, for the second yr operating, accidents hampered LeMahieu, elevating a new crop of questions as he progresses by his 30’s.

Grade: B

2022 Statistics: 125 video games, 541 PA, .261/.357/.377, 116 wRC+, 3.0 fWAR

2023 Contract Status: Entering third yr of six-year, $90-million contract

The numbers for LeMahieu’s general marketing campaign are strong, however we’re in all probability greatest off viewing his season as earlier than and after the foot damage that stored him out of the playoffs. The group has pinpointed a sequence in Boston starting August twelfth as the time that LeMahieu initially injured his foot. The illness was an odd one, as the Yankees claimed relaxation would not assist LeMahieu, solely to sit down him down for a few weeks in September, virtually a month after the damage occurred. LeMahieu returned at the finish of the season however nonetheless appeared incumbent, and in the end didn’t play in both of the Yankees’ postseason sequence.

LeMahieu entered that sequence in opposition to the Red Sox with a sturdy .284/.387/.425 slash line, good for a 139 wRC+. While he hadn’t totally found the energy he confirmed in 2019 and 2020, LeMahieu was persistently hitting the ball with extra thump than in 2021. Couple that with a stroll fee that LeMahieu raised for the fifth consecutive yr, and the veteran on observe for maybe his best-ever offensive output in a full season.

But the foot damage suffered in Boston sapped LeMahieu’s energy, in a comparable solution to how a sports activities hernia restricted his energy in 2021. In 23 video games after getting harm, LeMahieu hit simply .163/.215/.163, with zero extra-base hits He was clearly a shell of himself, along with his injured proper foot rendering him fully unable to strike the ball with authority.

The distinction was stark. In the first half of the season, we grew accustomed to basic LeMahieu: a constant, line-drive swing that produced regular onerous contact to all fields.

During the stretch run, LeMahieu visibly struggled to drive off his again foot, resulting in all types of weak contact and simple outs:

LeMahieu’s depressing end to the season sadly dragged his seasonal numbers and knocked our grade down a notch. Before the damage, although, LeMahieu had a strong case as the membership’s second-best place participant, thanks largely to his extremely well-rounded sport.

Despite his post-injury regression, LeMahieu’s stroll fee nonetheless landed at a career-high 12.4 p.c. He showcased a prime class plate strategy, chasing out of zone pitches lower than the common participant, and making a great deal of contact inside the zone. Consistent high quality contact in the zone, plus spitting on pitches out of the zone, provides as much as a entire lot of adverse at-bats for opposing pitchers.

LeMahieu additionally contributed defensively throughout the diamond, offering glorious glove work wherever he was wanted. LeMahieu performed 35 video games at first base, 41 video games at second, and 47 at third, score nicely above common at every place. While LeMahieu has each under common velocity and arm energy, his excellent instincts and constant fundamentals enable him to transform batted balls into outs wherever he stands on the infield dust.

There are simply only a few holes in a wholesome LeMahieu’s sport. He hardly ever swings and misses, and hits the ball onerous to all fields. His plate self-discipline has improved mightily as his profession has progressed, and he is demonstrated a capability to play versatile, elite protection at the same time as he ages.

Going ahead, all of it actually appears to come back all the way down to well being. LeMahieu is 34 now, however has proven he can nonetheless do just about every part on a baseball discipline at a excessive degree. He simply has to remain wholesome, one thing he wasn’t in a position to do throughout these final two full seasons. If he can keep on the discipline for 150 video games in 2023, the Yankees ought to in all probability count on a 4+ WAR participant, however there isn’t any assure that can ever once more be the case as LeMahieu enters his mid-30s.

In all, the Yankees and LeMahieu stay in a strong spot. He’s a good participant, one the Yankees ought to be blissful to have underneath contract into the future. Questions stay, however this time, they do not actually pertain to LeMahieu’s on-field efficiency. The Yankees ought to really feel assured that a wholesome LeMahieu stays one in all the American League’s prime general infielders.

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