Yankees’ batting order set to change with return of veteran infielder

MLB: Oakland Athletics at New York Yankees, dj lemahieu
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are anticipating the return of DJ LeMahieu, who is currently progressing through a rehab assignment following a right foot injury that sidelined him for the initial part of the season.

LeMahieu has played four games across different minor league levels, including one with High-A Hudson Valley and three with Double-A Somerset, where he boasted a .500 batting average and a .714 on-base percentage. His strong performance at Double-A indicates that he is nearly ready to rejoin the major league squad.

Yankees’ Depth at Third Base and LeMahieu’s Role Upon Return

In LeMahieu’s absence, the Yankees have relied on Oswaldo Cabrera and Jon Berti to cover third base. Berti, at 34 years old, has demonstrated considerable speed and utility, ranking in the 95th percentile for sprint speed. Over 16 games, Berti has compiled a .275 batting average and a .327 on-base percentage, contributing one home run and six RBIs. Berti’s role as a versatile player has proven invaluable, and he is expected to continue providing depth for the Yankees once LeMahieu returns.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Mar 11, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) singles during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Manager Aaron Boone has indicated that LeMahieu will reclaim his position at third base upon his return. Despite a somewhat inconsistent 2023 season, where he hit .243/.327/.390 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs across 136 games, LeMahieu’s performance improved significantly in the latter half of the year following a change in hitting coaches.

Anthony Volpe, who has taken over the full-time role and experienced an initial slow start, has begun to find his rhythm, hitting .250 with a .324 on-base percentage. The Yankees plan to keep Volpe in his current spot, which will allow LeMahieu to bolster the lower half of the batting order. LeMahieu is likely to be positioned in the eighth spot, enhancing the lineup by providing a contact hitter ahead of Austin Wells and Jose Trevino, who would round out the order.

Having a hitter of LeMahieu’s caliber in the lower part of the lineup is a strategic advantage for the Yankees, especially as they aim to maximize the slugging abilities of stars like Juan Soto and Aaron Judge at the top of the order. This lineup depth will be crucial as the Yankees continue their campaign and seek to maintain their competitive edge.

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