The New York Yankees’ darkhorse MVP candidate for 2020

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

When talking about the New York Yankees‘ best players, most fans usually focus on Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole. And how can you blame them? They are perhaps the team’s top talents when it comes to position players and pitchers, respectively. Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton, if healthy, can also post huge numbers and obtain MVP votes.

However, the Yankees have a solid candidate that, given the circumstances, could have greater odds of being crowned the American League’s Most Valuable Player. That person is DJ LeMahieu.

Last year, when all was said and done, LeMahieu was the New York Yankees’ best player. Judge and Stanton lost many games due to injury, and Torres’ defense and middling OBP made him lose ground in the WAR battle.

As SNY recently pointed out, LeMahieu had a breakout 2019. Not that he didn’t rake before in his career, but never to the tune of a .327/.375/.518 line, 26 home runs (easily a career-high) and a 136 wRC+.

According to Fangraphs, LeMahieu had a 5.4 WAR. He defended several positions across the infield for the Yankees and he did it very well, and he delivered in the batters’ box. Last season, he was fourth in the MVP race, so while it will be difficult to replicate that kind of success, few players in the league have the bat control and poise in the box that LeMahieu boasts.

According to PointsBet, here are the players’ odds of being the AL’s MVP:

  • Mike Trout: +135
    Aaron Judge: +900
    Gleyber Torres: +1200
    Francisco Lindor: +1400
    Alex Bregman: +1800
    Shohei Ohtani: +1800
    Matt Chapman: +2000
    DJ LeMahieu: +2500
    Gerrit Cole: +3000
    Josh Donaldson: +3300
    Rafael Devers: +3300
    Jose Ramirez: +4000
    Jose Altuve: +4000

The Yankees’ hitting machine

Somehow, even after having a better season than most guys in front of him (even Torres) LeMahieu gets little respect. But the fact remains that the season will be a short one, and guys who can step un right out of the gate and produce will have a slight advantage when it comes to end-of-the-season awards.

A short season means less room for error and benefits pure hitters. Additionally, LeMahieu has been working out for quite a while in the Yankees’ spring training complex, is near-game ready, and as the article points out, “doesn’t really need much to get into that groove in the first place.” Statcast confirmed last year that he is equally adept at hitting fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed pitches.

The Yankees’ darkhorse MVP candidate can surprise quite a few people this year.