Yankees star utility infielder having rough 2023 season

dj lemahieu, yankees
May 23, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman DJ LeMahieu (26) hits an RBI single against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, the New York Yankees boast one of the best teams in baseball. However, a plethora of injuries this season has significantly hampered their progress.

While their healthy players have mostly been competent, star infielder DJ LeMahieu is enduring one of his more challenging seasons.

Despite a severe toe injury in 2022, LeMahieu managed to participate in 125 games, maintaining a .261 average and .357 OBP, with a 116 wRC+. Although his 2020 performance with the Yankees — when he hit .364 with a .421 OBP — represents the zenith of his career in pinstripes, he remains an extraordinarily effective player.

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The Yankees are trying to work DJ LeMahieu out of his funk:

DJ’s career strikeout rate stands at 14.9%, making his current season’s rate of 26.4% particularly baffling. Surprisingly, LeMahieu has struck out 59 times in 53 games this year, compared to 71 times in 125 games in 2022. These numbers do not reflect DJ’s past performance, suggesting he’s experiencing a difficult period.

The 34-year-old seasoned infielder might be overanalyzing in the batter’s box, leading to decreased productivity. During Sunday night’s match against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he struck out three times in four at-bats, further escalating his strikeout rate. He recently shared his thoughts on his ongoing struggles.

“Missing some pitches I should hit and then trying to do too much just to put the ball in play,” LeMahieu said, “and that’s not my game.”

LeMahieu confirmed that he’s in good health and “feel[s] good,” eliminating potential injury as a factor.

“I feel good,” LeMahieu said. “The last week and a half has been kind of a grind. Just trying to put together a little bit better (at-bats). A little disappointed, but just keep it going, and I think overall our team has been playing good baseball and I’m real excited about that.”

Despite his offensive struggles, DJ has proven to be a reliable defensive player this season, maintaining efficiency in that area. He’s played 328.1 innings at third base this season and 18 innings at second base.

At third base, he boasts a .990 fielding percentage with three defensive runs saved and one out above average. In the absence of Josh Donaldson, DJ has admirably filled the void with above-average defensive performances.

Ultimately, the Yankees are confident that LeMahieu will rebound eventually. However, he must first overcome his mental hurdles and trust his instincts.