Last night on MLB.com, it was announced that the New York Yankee slugger and batting champ DJ LeMahieu was named the 14th best player in baseball; in the same broadcast Gerrit Cole, the Yankee ace, was named the number 11th best player. Both had a great season for the Yankees in 2020. Greg Amsinger, Sean Casey, Ron Darling, and Harold Reynolds of MLB.com put their heads together to come up with these rankings last night.
Previously they named Aaron Judge just missing the top 20 as number 21 after an injured season in 2019 and 2020. Other New York Yankees to make the top 100 were home run champ Luke Voit at number 41, Gleyber Torres at number 64, Gio Urshela at number 78, and slugger Giancarlo Stanton at number 97. The top 10 will be released tonight; no Yankees will be on that list.
DJ Lemahieu at number 14 was nothing but a hitting machine for the Yankees since general manager Brian Cashman signed him before the 2019 season. In his first season with the New York Yankees, he gave the Yankees more than they could ever have hoped for; he was a Silver Slugger and hit .327 with 26 home runs and was an All-Star, and came in fourth in the MVP voting.. Yankee fans and the front office felt it would be hard for the DJ to replicate that season in 2020. But he did and bettered it with a .364 batting average that led all of baseball and crowned him the MLB batting champ. He also was a Silver Slugger and this time came in third in the MVP voting.
Gerrit Cole came to the New York Yankees after they sent general manager Brian Cashman, manager Aaron Boone, pitching coach Matt Blake and a special envoy in Andy Pettitte to California to woe the best pitcher in baseball to come to the Yankees. They brought presents and wined and dined the pitcher and his wife Amy, and even brought a special wine they enjoyed on their honeymoon. But it was probably Andy Pettitte that influenced the deal. Pettitte was a long-time idol of Cole. The deal got done, Cole came away with a record $324 million contract, and the New York Yankees got arguably the best pitcher in baseball.
The star pitcher in the Yankees’ bizarre 2020 season was 7-3 in twelve starts with an ERA of 2.84. He came in fourth in the Cy Young Award voting. The season before with the Houston Astros, he was 20-5 with an ERA of just 2.50. In that season, he was an All-Star, came in second in the Cy Young Award voting, and came second to only Justin Verlander in the MVP voting. This season he will lead the Yankee rotation followed by a two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery.
Placing in the top 100 of baseball players is indeed an honor hoped for by all baseball players, but to place in the top 20 is an extreme honor. The New York Yankees now have six team members in the top 100 players in baseball. The top 10 will be released tonight on MLB.com.