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Yankees Mailbag: DJ LeMahieu, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Deivi Garcia

The answers to your mailbag questions are in!

Ask Pinstripe Alley

Hello, everyone, and happy Friday! We have a smaller mailbag, with only four questions this week. There are some lengthy answers though. A reminder to keep sending questions if I didn’t get to yours today. I will try to next week.

Mark asks: What was the last Yankees team to be 24 games above .500 this time of year? This is quite impressive.

I relied on Josh’s fine research skills for this question. To get a quick answer, we’ll go for the record through June 26. Basing it on 80 games would take a lot more time and probably require a post in and of itself.

With that date as a guideline, the 2019 Yankees’ 52 wins sits second only to the 1998 Yankees’ 54 wins. Placing second to the ‘98 Yanks is nothing to be ashamed of. Also of note, the 2018 Yankees had 52 wins on June 26 as well. Last season felt so frustrating that we lost track of how good the team was.

Winning percentage, however, proves a more indicative measure considering the length of the season has changed over the years. In that context, the 2019 Yankees rank 14th with a .650 mark. The 1939 squad took home the top honors, sporting a .780 percentage. It must be nice having peak Joe DiMaggio, right?

Several have asked: Can you compare DJ LeMahieu’s production to that of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper?

I’ll admit it. I was grievously wrong about the LeMahieu signing. Back in January, I called the deal puzzling and declared the infielder “a below average bat.” Oops.

I also lobbied hard for the Yankees to ink either Machado or Harper, or heck, both. And you know what? I still don’t regret that.

LeMahieu, Harper, Machado 2019 stats

Bryce Harper 363 .246 .363 .465 .317 15% 27.8% .219 115
DJ LeMahieu 331 .336 .385 .522 .362 7.3% 13.9% .186 139
Manny Machado 335 .280 .358 .500 .311 10.1% 20.6% .220 125

The chart tells the 2019 story. LeMahieu leads the three in nearly every significant category. He ranks in the top five in the American League in fWAR, too. He has been a revelation.

It’s important, however, to distinguish between having a better season and being the better player. Through the season to date, LeMahieu has performed better than Harper and Machado. On a true talent level, though, Harper and Machado have LeMahieu’s number.

Machado has caught fire of late and started playing to his potential. Harper is too good to not bounce back, as evidenced by his second-half run last year. And as for contracts, who cares? If the Yankees got LeMahieu for a bargain, what does it matter? The fans see none of that surplus value. The team has the financial might to outspend the league, absorb the penalties, and still turn a profit. Pay the stars and enjoy the success. Trust me, it’s fun!

thedozen asks: Do you expect to see Deivi Garcia in Yankee pinstripes this season?

Garcia, 20, has established himself as the team’s most intriguing pitcher in the Yankees’ farm system. Over 64.2 innings split between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, the right-hander sports a 2.78 ERA (1.72 FIP) with a ridiculous 15.17 K/9 rate. In his last two outings, he started a combined no-hitter and struck out 15 batters.

Keith Law, who considers Garcia the Yankees’ top prospect, attended a recent game he started. Here’s an excerpt from his scouting report (subscription required for the full write-up):

Throwing on Monday night in Trenton, Garcia was 91-96 against Reading with an above-average to plus curveball at 77-80 that was his best pitch for getting into the zone, an above-average mid-80s changeup, and now a new slider at 84-87 with good tilt and some late bite, close to a cutter in shape.

While he has some delivery concerns, Law also talks up Garcia’s deception, which bodes well for a future in the rotation.

As for seeing him in the Bronx this summer, I think it’s possible. A September call-up seems more likely, though. While moving aggressively, he isn’t exactly on the 2015 Luis Severino fast track. That year saw Severino make eight starts in Double-A before moving up to Scranton, then he earned a call-up in August after 11 starts with the RailRiders.

Garcia has four starts in Tampa under his belt, and just finished his ninth game for Trenton. It’s possible the Yankees skip Scranton entirely—they did that with Jonathan Loaisiga—but a promotion to Triple-A and a call up in September feels like the most logical progression.

tdannay asks: My question is about PSA, not the Yankees. Was there an introduction post for all of these new writers? Who are these people? There seem to be a lot of them and I feel like I missed something.

We’ve been a team in transition since the season opened. You probably have seen a bunch of new faces around here, and they’ve all impressed me with their work! You will also notice that we launched the PSA Podcast Network, with shows by our own Ryan Chichester and Kenny Crocker, as well as one by Adam Giardino, broadcaster for the Triple-A RailRiders. It’s been an exciting and busy season for us. When I get a free minute, I will update the History of Pinstripe Alley post with full details.