Yankees star utility man breaks silence on offensive struggles

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Apr 22, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees pinch hitter DJ LeMahieu (26) celebrates after hitting a game winning RBI single in the ninth inning to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

DJ LeMahieu has historically been one of the most reliable and consistent hitters for the Yankees. Despite a significant toe injury, LeMahieu managed to play in 125 games last season, recording a .261 batting average and a .357 on-base percentage (OBP), albeit with a noticeable decline following the injury.

Many fans fondly recall his inaugural season with the Yankees in 2019 when he boasted a .327 batting average and a .375 OBP, contributing 26 home runs and 102 RBIs. Nonetheless, he is currently grappling with an unfamiliar challenge: a persistently high strikeout rate that he would ideally like to diminish.

“I take pride in not striking out,” said LeMahieu, via The Athletic. “I’ve struck out more than I’d like to so far this year. But (I’ll) just keep going and I know I’ll get out of this little rut.”

The Yankees are hoping DJ LeMahieu continues to improve:

The Yankees’ versatile infielder is striking out at a rate of 26.9% and walking at a rate of 8.2%, which aligns with his career average. However, his career strikeout rate stands at 14.9%, meaning he is currently experiencing a rate that’s 12% higher than his usual figure, considerably affecting his offensive productivity.

It appears as if LeMahieu is overthinking in the batter’s box instead of relying on his instincts. Historically, LeMahieu has demonstrated exceptional judgment, which has contributed to his double-digit walk rates in the past two seasons. Achieving a 32% on-base rate certainly does not meet his own high standards.

“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.”

Fortunately, LeMahieu is currently not battling any injuries, which have previously afflicted him and limited his performance.

Despite his offensive game not being up to his usual standards, he has demonstrated excellent defensive prowess at third base. He boasts a .989 fielding percentage at the hot corner and has saved two runs defensively over the course of 276.1 innings.

“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.”

The Yankees, currently grappling with a three-game losing streak and having scored only two runs in their last two matches, could certainly benefit from an offensive surge. LeMahieu did manage to secure a hit during Friday’s game. Despite his contact being inconsistent, he avoided striking out, which is a positive sign.