Yankees’ new hitting coach has revitalized one expensive veteran hitter

mlb: new york yankees at tampa bay rays, dj lemahieu
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees, having lost their shot at a playoff appearance post-All-Star break, are now left to strategize for future seasons. One key focus is getting their high-priced veterans back in form, and for DJ LeMahieu, that transition back to his peak performance is already underway.

A Rollercoaster Season: LeMahieu’s Fluctuating Metrics

At 35, LeMahieu had a rocky start to his season, hitting a low point in June with a .172 batting average and a .226 OBP across 58 at-bats. However, the tide seems to be turning. By July, he was hitting .247 with a .359 OBP, and as of August, those numbers have surged to .321 and .424 OBP respectively.

In a recent Friday night game against the Tampa Bay Rays, LeMahieu blasted two home runs, scored three runs, and logged two RBIs. This uptick in form has invigorated the Yankees’ offense at a time when much of the batting lineup is struggling.

“It was so good to see,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Again, I think just a little more life within his load, getting on his backside a little bit. Building a little speed in his swing. I just he’s a little faster.”

The Contract Equation: Three More Seasons at $15 Million Each

LeMahieu is contracted with the Yankees for three more seasons at an annual rate of $15 million, extending until he reaches free agency in 2027. Given that he’s already 35, both his age and dropping performance metrics are concerns for the Bombers. They’re eager to see him sustain this resurgence for as long as possible.

His initial lackluster performance this season served as a cautionary tale, but after the Yankees replaced their hitting coach with Sean Casey, LeMahieu is among the few who have notably improved.

Versatility on the Field: LeMahieu’s Defensive Prowess

Whether it’s a return to full health or a fundamental change in his approach at the plate, LeMahieu is once again resembling his former self. His defensive skills also remain intact; this season he’s logged 194 innings at first base, 72 innings at second, and 587.2 at third base.

Specifically at the hot corner—where he has spent the majority of his time—he boasts a .994 fielding percentage, with three defensive runs saved and three outs above average. He has also filled in competently at first base, especially with Anthony Rizzo sidelined due to concussion symptoms.

Utilityman Extraordinaire: Balancing Offense and Defense

LeMahieu has proven to be an invaluable utility man, particularly as his offensive metrics begin to improve. Consequently, his contract may yet prove to be money well-spent.

Looking forward to next season, the Yankees could theoretically make him their permanent third-baseman. However, his value may lie more in his utility role, where he can fill in for injured players and address specific weaknesses.

Room for Improvement: Clutch Performance Metrics

There’s still work to be done in terms of his efficiency with runners in scoring position (RISP). LeMahieu has seen a significant dip in this specific metric this year; over 78 at-bats with RISP, he’s managed just a .218 average, a .337 OBP, and a .619 OPS. Though he hasn’t hit a home run in these situations, he has accumulated 19 RBIs alongside 16 strikeouts and 14 walks.

Financial Calculations: The Yankees’ Balancing Act

The resurgence of DJ LeMahieu is certainly a relief for the New York Yankees, given that they are already committed to several hefty contracts for the foreseeable future. His comeback offers them some flexibility and eases financial constraints, as they strive to build a more competitive roster in the years to come.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: