DJ LeMahieu

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DJ LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu in handshake line after Yankees victory over Orioles 4-4-19.jpg
LeMahieu with the New York Yankees in 2019
New York Yankees – No. 26
Infielder
Born: (1988-07-13) July 13, 1988 (age 33)
Visalia, California
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
May 30, 2011, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
(through July 28, 2021)
Batting average.302
Hits1,396
Home runs92
Runs batted in517
Stolen bases87
Teams
Career highlights and awards

David John LeMahieu (/ləˈmhj/; born July 13, 1988) is an American professional baseball infielder for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies.

The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft out of LSU, and he made his MLB debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Rockies before the 2012 season. With Colorado, LeMahieu won Gold Glove Awards in 2014, 2017, and 2018, was named an All-Star in 2015 and 2017, and won the National League batting title in 2016. As a free agent after the 2018 season, he signed a two-year contract with the Yankees, where he has played as a third baseman, second baseman, and occasionally as a first baseman.[1][2]

His versatility on defense and hitting ability earned LeMahieu the nickname "LeMachine" from Gary Sánchez.[3] He was also called "Big Fundy" due to his fundamentally sound techniques.[4] With the Yankees, he was named a starter on the 2019 All-Star team, and won his first career Silver Slugger Award that year. LeMahieu won the American League batting title in 2020, becoming the first player in the modern era to win a batting title in each league.[5]

Early life and career[edit]

LeMahieu was born in Visalia, California.[6] His family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, while DJ was in middle school, then to Michigan, where he attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Township.[7] He played as a shortstop and pitcher for the school's baseball team. In his senior year, as a leadoff hitter, he batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases. He recorded two strikeouts in 92 at bats. His career average in high school was .459 with 201 hits. As a junior, he was an Aflac All-American. He was also a two-time Gatorade player of the year and Louisville Slugger Player of the Year for the State of Michigan.[8]

After his senior year at Brother Rice, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the 2007 MLB draft in the 41st round. He did not sign with Detroit so that he could attend college.[8]

College career[edit]

LeMahieu enrolled at Louisiana State University (LSU) to play college baseball for the LSU Tigers. As a freshman at LSU, for the 2008 season, he started in 67 of 68 games, hit .337 overall, and helped LSU reach the NCAA post-season play for the first time since 2005. In the post-season, he was selected to the All-Tournament team for the Baton Rouge regional after hitting .300 and scoring seven runs.[citation needed]

LeMahieu in 2008

In between his only two college baseball seasons, LeMahieu was part of the 2008 Harwich Mariners team in the Cape Cod Baseball League. He earned the team's regular-season MVP award[9] and was named the No. 6 prospect in the Cape Cod League by Baseball America magazine. The Mariners won the League Championship Series for the first time in 21 years.[10]

During his sophomore campaign, LeMahieu was selected as a pre-season All American by Collegiate Baseball. LeMahieu opened the 2009 season with a 9-game hitting streak adding to his previous 16-game consecutive streak from the end of the 2008 campaign, to total hitting safely in 25 consecutive games.[citation needed] LeMahieu finished the season leading the team in batting average, .350 and total hits, 96. In Game 1 of the Championship Series, LeMahieu hit a home run in the seventh inning giving LSU the lead temporarily. Down to their final out in the ninth inning, LeMahieu hit a game tying double off the left field wall. He then led off the 11th inning with a walk, stole second base with two outs, and scored the game's winning run.[11] LeMahieu was selected to the 2009 College World Series All-Tournament team, hitting .444 in the series and leading all players with 12 hits.[12]

Professional career[edit]

Chicago Cubs[edit]

The Chicago Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft with the 79th overall selection.[13] He played for the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League in 2009 after the draft. In 38 games, he hit .316 with 30 RBIs. He spent the 2010 season with the Daytona Cubs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League, batting .314 with 73 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 135 games, going on to earn a FSL Post-Season All-Star selection.[14]

LeMahieu began the 2011 season with the Tennessee Smokies of the Class AA Southern League. On May 30, the Cubs promoted LeMahieu to the major leagues when Jeff Baker was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.[15] That day, LeMahieu made his major league debut pinch-hitting for the pitcher John Grabow, grounding into a double play. He did not stay in the game, a 12–7 loss to the Houston Astros.[citation needed] The Cubs demoted LeMahieu to the Iowa Cubs of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League (PCL) in June. He returned to the major leagues in September[16] and would be honored as an MiLB.com Organization All-Star for the 2011 season.[17]

Colorado Rockies[edit]

On December 8, 2011, the Cubs traded LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin to the Colorado Rockies for Casey Weathers and Ian Stewart.[18] He began the 2012 season with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the PCL.

LeMahieu with the Rockies in 2013

On May 23, 2012, LeMahieu was called up to the major leagues to replace injured Jonathan Herrera as a utility infielder. He returned to Colorado Springs when Herrera was activated,[19] and was recalled to the Rockies on July 17 when Chris Nelson was hospitalized.[20] On August 14, he recorded a career-best four hits in a 9–6 Rockies win over the Milwaukee Brewers and in his first game against his former team, the Chicago Cubs, LeMahieu registered three hits in four at bats. Later in August, LeMahieu wrote his name into the record books, as he recorded 12 assists in a 9-inning victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 28th.[21] This mark tied a record held by several players.

In 2014, LeMahieu batted .267/.315/.348 with five home runs in 494 at bats. Defensively, he had an ultimate zone rating of 11.0, which was first in the National League (NL) and third in the majors. He won his first Gold Glove[22] with 16 Defensive Runs Saved[23] and led the majors with 99 double plays.[22]

LeMahieu was the starting second baseman for the NL in the 2015 All-Star Game; this was LeMahieu's first All-Star selection. For the season, he batted .301 and led the majors in percentage of balls hit to the opposite field (39.0%), while seeing the highest percentage of fastballs of all MLB hitters (66.9%).[24][25]

In 2016, LeMahieu won the NL batting title after batting .439 in August and .363 in September.[26] His .348 season average led all of MLB. For the season, he had the highest batting average on balls in play (.388) of all major league players, and again led the majors in percentage of balls hit to the opposite field (37.9%).[27][28]

LeMahieu was selected to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Dee Gordon.[29] He batted .310 and for the third consecutive year led the majors in percentage of balls hit to the opposite field (38.3%), while seeing the highest percentage of fastballs of all MLB hitters (67.0%).[30][31] Also again in 2017, LeMahieu collected the NL Gold Glove for second basemen.[32] Additionally, he won the Fielding Bible Award for all major league second basemen.[33]

In the 2018 season, LeMahieu hit a career-high 15 home runs while batting .276/.321/.428. He was tied for seeing the highest percentage of fastballs of all MLB hitters (63.6%).[34][35] In addition to an increase in power numbers, his defensive excellence continued. LeMahieu finished the 2018 season with a 19.5 SDI (SABR Defensive Index) highest of all NL players, and his 2.2 defensive WAR was eighth best among all of MLB. The .993 fielding percentage, .859 zone rating and 18 defensive runs saved were best for all NL second basemen. He earned both a third Gold Glove and a third Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.[36]

New York Yankees[edit]

On January 14, 2019, LeMahieu signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the New York Yankees.[37] The Yankees anticipated using LeMahieu as a utility infielder.[38] He made his Yankees debut on March 30 at Yankee Stadium, picking up a pair of hits and an RBI in four at-bats in a 5–3 loss to the Orioles. After getting off to a fast start, LeMahieu had an electric month of June. He reached base safely in all but two games, and also put together a 14-game hitting streak from June 14 to June 30 (including six consecutive multi-hit games from June 23–30). In the two-game London Series (which marked the halfway mark of the Yankees season) at the end of June, LeMahieu had seven hits in 12 at bats, three doubles and seven RBIs. This performance helped the Yankees sweep the Red Sox in the series.[39][40] This won LeMahieu his first career Player of the Week award. He then followed it up by winning the June AL Player of the Month Award for the first time (batting .395/.434/.658 with 6 home runs, 29 RBIs, 26 runs scored, and 45 hits) and being elected as the starting second baseman for the All-Star game.

Due to injuries in the team, he spent time at first, second, and third base throughout the season.[2][1] It was the first time he played in multiple positions since 2014, but did not cover shortstop that season. He was also the first Yankees player to ever make 25 starts in each of the three different infield positions.[41] During the playoffs, he played exclusively at first base. In Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, LeMahieu hit a game-tying two-run home-run in the ninth inning to tie the ballgame at 4–4, with the Yankees two outs from elimination. However, José Altuve would hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning, eliminating the Yankees.

LeMahieu finished the 2019 season batting .327 with 26 home runs and 102 RBIs in 145 games.[42] He set new career highs in hits (197), doubles (33), home runs, RBIs, runs scored (109), runs created (115), slugging percentage (.518), adjusted OPS+ (135), isolated power (.191), total bases (312), offensive WAR (5.2), fWAR (5.4), and bWAR (5.9). He had the lowest pull percentage of all major league batters (27.9%) and posted remarkably consistent stats all-round (his lowest monthly batting average was .282 in July, while his home/road and pre/post All-Star splits were .338/.318 and .336/.316 respectively).[43] Additionally, besides ranking second in the American League in batting average behind Tim Anderson, he became the first Yankee to qualify for the batting title with a .300+ batting average since Canó in 2013, and posted the highest batting average for a Yankee player since Derek Jeter hit .334 in 2009. LeMahieu was awarded the Silver Slugger Award for the first time in his career,[44] was named to the inaugural All-MLB First Team for second base, and finished fourth in the AL MVP voting behind Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Marcus Semien.[45]

LeMahieu did not appear in the Yankees' 2020 Opening Day starting lineup after recovering from COVID-19.[46][47] After a four-hit game against the Atlanta Braves, he was batting .431 in 65 at-bats.[48] However, he suffered a left thumb sprain against the Boston Red Sox on August 16 and was placed on the 10-day injured list.[49] LeMahieu was activated from the injured list on August 29.[50]

LeMahieu ended the season with a .364 batting average, which was the highest in the American League. He was the fourth Yankee to lead the majors in hitting, the ninth Yankee to win an AL batting title, and the first to do so since Bernie Williams in 1998. LeMahieu was also the second player ever to win a batting title in each league (LeMahieu led the NL in 2016 with a .348 average playing for the Colorado Rockies) following Ed Delahanty, who hit .410 for Philadelphia (NL) in 1899 and .376 for Washington (AL) in 1902.[51] However, LeMahieu became the first player in MLB's "modern era" to win a batting title in both the American and National Leagues.[5] With teammate Luke Voit leading the MLB with home runs (with 22), the duo became the first pair of teammates to lead the MLB in batting average and home runs since Hank Aaron (.355) and Eddie Mathews (46 HR) did it in 1959 with the Milwaukee Braves.[52] Coincidentally, he also became the second Yankees player in a row, after Paul O'Neill in 1994, to win a batting title in a shortened season before entering contract negotiations.[53] LeMahieu also led the AL in OBP (.421), OPS (1.011), adjusted OPS+ (177), offensive win percentage (.813), and bWAR for position players (2.8). He won his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award[54] and finished third in AL MVP voting behind José Abreu and José Ramírez.[55]

On January 27, 2021, LeMahieu signed a six year, $90 million deal in free agency to return to the Yankees.[56]

On May 7, 2021 during a game against the Washington Nationals, LeMaheu recorded his 300th career hit with the Yankees, doing so in his 225th game. This is the second fastest in team history behind Joe DiMaggio who accomplished the feat in 200 games.

Batting profile[edit]

LeMahieu during the 2019 All-Star Red Carpet Parade in Cleveland, Ohio

Despite his 6'4", 215 pound frame that led many scouts to suggest that he had potential as a pure power hitter, LeMahieu became a powerful opposite field contact hitter. His tendency to not leg kick, and hit for contact with low launch angle (average of under 10 degrees) was compensated by his high exit velocity (91.7 mph average as of August 8, 2019), meaning he can still hit for extra bases while not getting long fly outs.[57] He has also hit more opposite field home runs than pulling home runs in the 2019 season.

Personal life[edit]

LeMahieu and his wife, Jordan, were married in 2014.[58] They reside in Birmingham, Michigan, during the offseason, and in New York City during the season.[59][60] On July 4, 2020, it was announced that LeMahieu had tested positive for COVID-19, recovering shortly after.[61]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Davidoff, Ken (July 9, 2019). "DJ LeMahieu's former Rockies teammates knew he'd be a Yankees star". New York Post. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Joyce, Greg (July 19, 2019). "The Rockies' decisions that led DJ LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino to the Yankees". Nypost.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Machine and his boat oar: How DJ LeMahieu became a household (nick)name in the Bronx". ESPN.com. July 19, 2019.
  4. ^ "6 Dumbest 2019 Players' Weekend Nicknames". 12up.com. August 6, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Yankees' DJ LeMahieu becomes first player in modern era to win batting title in each league". CBSSports.com. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  6. ^ "Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu's consistency is his strength – The Denver Post". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  7. ^ Jonathan LeBlanc, Special to the Free Press. "How D.J. LeMahieu went from Brother Rice to MLB All-Star". Freep.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Brother Rice's LeMahieu proves critics wrong, wins Gold Glove | USA TODAY High School Sports". Usatodayhss.com. November 5, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  9. ^ "Baseball Leads Nation with Five Top Prospects - LSU Tigers". Lsusports.net. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  10. ^ Eric Adler (August 15, 2008). "How Sweet It Is! Harwich Mariners Win First CCBL Championship In 21 Years". capecodbaseball.org. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  11. ^ Pat Borzi (June 23, 2009). "L.S.U. Rallies to Win Game 1 of College World Series Finals - The New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  12. ^ "Former LSU infielder DJ LeMahieu signs with Chicago Cubs". Archived from the original on July 29, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  13. ^ "Mitchell, LeMahieu Taken in First Rounds of MLB Draft". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "DJ LeMahieu Minor & Fall Leagues Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  15. ^ Kline, Adam (May 30, 2011). "DJ LeMahieu promoted to Chicago Monday - MiLB.com News - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  16. ^ "Colvin, LeMahieu Traded to Colorado - MiLB.com News - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". December 9, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  17. ^ Emrich, Robert (October 12, 2011). "Jackson, LaHair power Cubs system". MiLB.com. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  18. ^ Kepner, Tyler (February 25, 2017). "With Each Hit, Rockies' D.J. LeMahieu Shows Cubs' Epstein What He Gave Up On". Retrieved February 27, 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
  19. ^ "Rockies activate IF Herrera from disabled list". ESPN.com. June 23, 2012.
  20. ^ / / (July 17, 2012). "Rockies' Nelson remains hospitalized". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved July 30, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "LeMahieu ties single-game assists mark at second – Dominican Prospect League". Dplbaseball.com. August 29, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Saunders, Patrick (November 4, 2014). "Rockies DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado win Gold Gloves". The Denver Post. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  23. ^ Milnes, Jay (February 11, 2015). "State of the position: Second base is DJ LeMahieu's spot to lose in 2015". SB Nation. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
  24. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2015 » Batters » Pitch Type Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  25. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2015 » Batters » Batted Ball Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  26. ^ "DJ LeMahieu » Splits » 2016 » Batting - FanGraphs Baseball".
  27. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2016 » Batters » Batted Ball Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  28. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2016 » Batters » Advanced Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  29. ^ Ringolsby, Tracy (May 24, 2018). "Rockies DJ LeMahieu gets call in All Star Game". MLB.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2017 » Batters » Pitch Type Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  31. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2017 » Batters » Batted Ball Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  32. ^ Saunders, Patrick (November 7, 2017). "Rockies' Nolan Arenado wins 5th Gold Glove; DJ LeMahieu snares his second". Denver Post. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  33. ^ Harding, Thomas (October 30, 2017). "Arenado, LeMahieu win Fielding Bible Awards". MLB.com. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  34. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2018 » Batters » Pitch Type Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  35. ^ "DJ LeMahieu Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  36. ^ Thornburg, Chad (May 24, 2018). "2018 defensive player of year awards announced". MLB.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  37. ^ Hoch, Bryan (January 11, 2019). "Yankees add infielder DJ LeMahieu | New York Yankees". MLB.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  38. ^ "Sources: Yanks, LeMahieu agree to 2-year deal". ESPN.com. January 11, 2019.
  39. ^ "Yankees rule Britannia, complete London sweep of Red Sox". Associated Press. June 30, 2019. Archived from the original on July 1, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  40. ^ "DJ LeMahieu 2019 Batting Game Logs". Baseball-Reference.com.
  41. ^ "DJ LeMahieu Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  42. ^ "DJ LeMahieu Stats". Baseball-Reference.com.
  43. ^ "Major League Leaderboards » 2019 » Batters » Batted Ball Statistics | FanGraphs Baseball". Fangraphs.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  44. ^ "2019 Silver Slugger Award winners". Mlb-com.cdn.ampproject.org. November 7, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  45. ^ "2019 MVP Award vote totals". MLB.com. November 14, 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2019.
  46. ^ Martin, Dan (July 23, 2020). "Yankees' DJ LeMahieu active but not starting on Opening Day". New York Post. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  47. ^ "LeMahieu back with Yanks after recovering from COVID-19". ABC News. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  48. ^ "'Locked in' DJ LeMahieu Sets Sights on .400 With Another Four-Hit Performance". SI.com. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  49. ^ "LeMahieu (thumb sprain) to IL; Andújar up". MLB.com. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  50. ^ "LeMahieu triples in return as Yankees snap skid". ESPN.com. August 29, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  51. ^ III, George A. King (September 28, 2020). "DJ LeMahieu's batting title comes with message to Yankees".
  52. ^ "LeMahieu wins AL batting title; Voit (22) most HRs". ESPN.com. September 28, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  53. ^ MLB Central react to New York Yankees 2021, DJ LeMaHieu upcoming free agency | MLB 2020 Postseason
  54. ^ Goodman, Max (November 8, 2020). "DJ LeMahieu Wins AL Silver Slugger Award for Second Base". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  55. ^ "LeMahieu finishes 3rd in AL MVP voting". MLB.com. November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 13, 2020.
  56. ^ https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/30717350/new-york-yankees-dj-lemahieu-finalizing-six-year-90m-contract-sources-say
  57. ^ Lemire, Joe. "Yankees MVP DJ LeMahieu Is the Hitting Rebel Turning His Back on MLB's HR Era". Bleacher Report. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  58. ^ Post, Denver (March 24, 2018). "The Rockies' DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon ready for possible last hurrah - Boulder Daily Camera". Dailycamera.com. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  59. ^ https://empiresportsmedia.com/new-york-yankees/new-york-yankees-player-profiles-dj-lemahieu/
  60. ^ https://www.mlb.com/news/dj-lemahieu-is-yankees-humble-star
  61. ^ Schuster, Blake. "Yankees DJ LeMahieu, Luis Cessa Test Positive for COVID-19, Aaron Boone Says". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 5, 2020.

External links[edit]