New York Yankees Player Profiles: DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu
May 29, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) watches his solo home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The baseball life of DJ LeMahieu:

The 31-year-old David John “DJ” LeMahieu has completed his first year with the New York Yankees and has quickly become a favorite player among most fans. The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft, and he made his MLB debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Colorado Rockies before the 2012 season. LeMahieu won a Gold Glove Award in 2014, 2017, and 2018, and was named an MLB All-Star in 2015 and 2017; he also won the National League batting title in 2016. After becoming a free agent, he signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season.

DJ was born in California, but his family moved to Michigan after a short time in Nevada, where he attended high school. When in high school, he played as a shortstop and pitcher for the school’s baseball team. In his senior year, as a leadoff hitter, batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases. Although he was selected in the draft by the Detroit Tigers, he decided to attend Louisiana State University instead. He was a shortstop for the baseball team and excelled with a .350 batting average. He later transitioned from shortstop to second base. LeMahieu was selected to the 2009 College World Series All-Tournament team. He hit .444 in the series leading all players in the series with 12 hits.

DJ often talks about his father Tom and the effect he had on him becoming who he is today.   As a young boy, Tom would get up early to play ball before it got too hot.  For most of his childhood, his dad was his coach and mentor. After college and starting in the minors DJ would say:  “At this point in my career, you need all the positive you can get. It’s real easy to be hard on yourself in the big leagues. I talk to him almost every day. I’ll go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and he’ll somehow find the positive out of it.” He also said of his father: “He’d hit me ten ground balls. If I misplayed one, it was a run for him. Then he’d throw me BP, and we’d play a normal inning. We’d play nine innings, almost every day. For me, at a young age, fielding ground balls was always competitive. If I missed a ball, it could cost me a run.”

His career after being selected by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, didn’t last as the Cubs traded LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies after the 2011 season.  In May of the following year, he was called up to replace an injured player. “I didn’t want it to become something where he was getting tired of it,” said Tom LeMahieu, who made an early Father’s Day trip when the Rockies were in Miami for the weekend. “Every now and then, I’d ask, ‘Do you still want to play?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, yeah.’ Not only did he want to do it, but he was competitive about it. Even to this day, if you come up with something to do and make a game out of it, he’s into it.”    In August, he recorded his career-best four-hit game against the Brewers for a 9-6 Rockies win. Later in August, LeMahieu wrote his name into the record books, as he recorded 12 assists in a 9-inning victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 28th.   He was a 2015 All-Star, and in 2016, LeMahieu won the National League batting title. His .348 season average led all of Major League Baseball. He was a 2017 All-Star, and in 2018, he was named the best defensive player in all of the majors.

DJ always wanted to play for the New York Yankees. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter. He, in an interview, said that he wanted to be like Jeter. And modeled himself on the field and off the field after him. On January 14th of last year, DJ signed a $24 million, two-year contract with the Yankees. He couldn’t have the number 2 that he wanted, so he selected #26. During his short time with the Yankees, he has played first and shortstop but primarily second base, where he has excelled. The Yankee organization refers to him as the super-utility player. He quickly became a fan favorite for his frequent and timely hitting and good play at second base. He had the most hits of any Yankee and is third in runs batted in. He also has the most doubles. Although he is not a home run hitter, he provides that much needed timely contact hitting that is missing from some of the home run hitters. DJ has turned out to be more than the Yankees could have ever hoped. He had played 2nd 3rd, SS, and a back up of Voit and Ford at first. He has made gold glove plays and had a batting average of .327 with the most hits of any Yankee (197) and 26 home runs. He also has the most singles of any player in baseball.

DJ has continued to be one of the most critical parts of the Yankee lineup, usually leading off. Many fans are calling him “the machine” due to how dependable he is at the plate and in the field. He had four RBI’s in game one of the ALDS. He was in the top 4 in the vote for AL MVP. During the postseason, he hit .325 with 7 singles, 3 doubles, and 3 home runs, with 7 RBI’s.

He still talks with his dad Tom all the time.  “He became more of a mentor than a coach,” LeMahieu said. “A lot of dads, they want their hands on everything. For him to step back and say, ‘Your coaches are your coaches, so do what they say and listen to them’ — that was perfect. He’s not a know-it-all, doesn’t claim to be. His biggest advice to me was:  take a little bit of information from every coach.”

As I stated before, DJ is 31 years old after just celebrating his birthday on August 31. He is married to his wife Jordan since 2014, who is a real estate agent. They have made the decision to keep information about their children under wraps. He is presently living in New York City, where he and his wife are loving the city and being with the Yankees. They have a winter residence in Birmingham, Michigan, where many of their family members live. LeMahieu immediately blended in with the team and is well-liked in the clubhouse.  DJ does not have much of a social media presence. LeMahieu was an All-Star, made the All-MLB First team, and was awarded the Silver Slugger Award, all in his first year with the Yankees.  He will be the opening day starter for the Yankees at second base.