In my years of blogging about the Yankees, I’ve made my share of boneheaded suggestions and opinions. I once asked where Gary Sanchez’s power went in 2017, only for him to go on a home-run binge immediately thereafter. I once tried to make a point that trading for Sonny Gray over Justin Verlander was, in fact, a good decision. Heck, I didn’t even write up a story when the Yankees acquired Gio Urshela, because it seemed like such a minor transaction and more pressing things needed coverage.
All bad mistakes, of course, but none as egregious as my response to the DJ LeMahieu signing. When the Yankees added the second baseman in January 2019, I had a number of complaints, but chief among them was that he wasn’t Manny Machado.
Check out this gem of a paragraph:
The 30-year-old is fresh off a 2018 season that saw him hit .276/.321/.428 with 15 home runs (86 wRC+). It’s pretty clear that his 2016 season was an aberration and not the norm. That season LeMahieu hit .348/.416/.495 with a 130 wRC+. Otherwise he has a below average bat, even with the benefit of playing at Coors Field.
Or how about this one?
The big question of course, is why not just spend on Machado? Having Troy Tulowitzki and LeMahieu in the same infield is a strange move when clearly superior options exist. This offseason has been nothing if not puzzling.
Incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever been so wrong about anything in my life as I was about LeMahieu. In 2019, The Machine played 145 games, hitting .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs (136 wRC+). He even finished fourth in the AL MVP voting.
This summer, LeMahieu has picked up right where he left off, slashing .431/.479/.569 with two home runs (195 wRC+). Last night he went 4-for-5 with a triple and a stolen base, and everyone just thought, “Yeah, that’s a normal game for LeMahieu.” It’s ridiculous how consistently good he’s been for the Bombers.
All this to say, the Yankees should make bringing LeMahieu back a top priority this offseason. Extend him now if you can. He joined the team and instantly fit in, assuming a leadership role from day one, not unlike Paul O’Neill in the early 90s. According to Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), Brian Cashman considers LeMahieu a de facto captain, and the reporter finds it “inconceivable” that the team would let him walk.
“I try to put myself in the best spots to succeed, so when success happens, I don’t want to say it’s expected but I am also prepared. I expect to succeed, but sometimes you just kind of look back after a certain period of time and ... it’s definitely like ‘wow, I can’t believe I did that or that.’ But like I said, I just try to work hard and put myself into good positions,” LeMahieu told Kristie Ackert after last night’s performance.
Take a page from his playbook, Yankees. Locking LeMahieu in long-term would put the Yankees in the best position to succeed moving forward.