Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu finally looked like The Machine again

Think you understand your 2021 Yankees? Try this one:

Name the 2 place gamers who’ve skilled the biggest OPS drop from their 2020 numbers. Please think about solely these gents certified for the batting title.

Number one, which in all probability gained’t shock you, is Clint Frazier, who has adopted up final yr’s .905 with a .582, a 323-point plummet which landed him on the bench Tuesday at Globe Life Field.

Number two, would you imagine … given this workforce’s profound, widespread struggles with the bat … is DJ LeMahieu?

Maybe not for for much longer.

The Yankees’ most precious participant of the prior two seasons, kicking off his new six-year contract, has slipped from nice to good, his .734 OPS a .277 drop from final yr’s 1.011. On Tuesday evening, nevertheless, the infielder got here by means of in a good way, driving house three runs to steer his membership to a 7-4 victory over the Rangers, halting a two-game dropping streak.

Before the sport, Aaron Boone mentioned of LeMahieu: “He set the bar really high and [he’s] working hard to get to that level where we know he’s The Machine. Hopefully, these last couple of games, I feel like he’s really starting to lock it in a little bit.”

DJ LeMahieu belts a two-run double in the Yankees' 7-4 win over the Rangers.
DJ LeMahieu belts a two-run double within the Yankees’ 7-4 win over the Rangers.
AP

The versatile infielder, beginning at third base and ultimately shifting over to first base, provided extra such proof after Boone issued his hope, and the timing couldn’t have been significantly better. The Yankees wanted this one, all of the extra so after Jameson Taillon, their least constant beginning pitcher (in giving up 4 runs over 4 ¹/₃ innings, he really lowered his highway ERA from 9.49 to 9.18), fell right into a 3-0 gap within the third inning. The Yankees, their 2021 offense so meek so usually, responded with a ferocious, old-school, five-run rally within the fourth inning, pounding out six hits, none of them a homer, plus a stroll.

The largest hit got here from LeMahieu, who stepped up with the bases loaded, two outs and the competition tied at 3-3. Rangers supervisor Chris Woodward lifted his starter, Mike Foltynewicz, for lefty Kolby Allard, who jumped forward, 1-and-2, earlier than unloading a belt-high fastball that LeMahieu sliced to proper subject, previous diving first baseman Nate Lowe, scoring Miguel Andujar and Mike Ford for a 5-3 Yankees lead.

After the Rangers nipped again within the fifth, when former Yankees draft choose Nick Solak stroked a solo homer off Taillon, LeMahieu supplied a cushion with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly that introduced house Andujar.

The 32-year-old LeMahieu’s modest begin to 2021 has set off sirens, if softer ones than a few of his teammates’ alerts, as a result of it broke the sample of what we had seen with him. Peak LeMahieu, mixed with the prolonged damage absences of Giancarlo Stanton, considerably altered the Yankees’ offensive identification. Suddenly they weren’t a strikeout manufacturing facility, enhancing from third within the AL in 2018 to seventh in 2019 to 14th final yr. They improved at hitting with runners in scoring place, from fifth (in OPS) in 2018 to first every of the 2 prior seasons (thanks, Baseball-Reference.com).

Through Monday’s motion, the Yankees had climbed again as much as seventh in strikeouts and dropped to tenth in these clutch conditions. Not coincidentally, LeMahieu’s strikeout share has jumped from 9.7 % in 2020 to 16.5 % this yr, whereas his .286/.382/.321 slash line with runners in scoring place — again, not horrible — marked fairly the drop from his .364/.405/.455 final yr.

Add all of it up, and in its personal manner, LeMahieu’s fall should declare some duty, statistically if not morally, for the Yankees’ terrible offensive starting.

LeMahieu coated up for a lot of organizational inadequacies the prior two years, as particular gamers do. Whether LeMahieu can flip again into The Machine would possibly show as severe a problem as some other this workforce faces. That he did what he did Tuesday, subsequently, makes this a very significant win.

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