If you don't know who "David John LeMahieu" is, you better hit the books. DJ is a 3x All-Star, 3x Gold-Glove winner, 2019 1st Team All-MLB and Silver Slugger, and 2x Batting Champion. The LSU Tiger and former Chicago Cub and Colorado Rockie, came over to New York last season on a two-year deal. His role was supposed to be a utility guy that can play across the diamond, but with last year's (and this year's) injury plague, he evolved into one of the best players on the team. Nicknamed "Le Machine" by his teammates, LeMahieu is so much more than Yankee fans ever expected to come from him. For the past two seasons, he has been the catalyst of the Yankees offense and possesses a cool, calm, and collected aura similar to the likes of another DJ... Derek Jeter.
Photo: New York Post
We can all say that 2020 was a weird year for the MLB, let alone the country and the world. Whoever wins the "World Series" will always have baseball purists putting an asterisk on their title. The same goes for individual awards, as players only participated in at most 60 games. No matter, there should still be an MVP, and it still matters.
There has been a lot of talk and hype around up who should win this title. Most of the talk on who should win has revolved around superstar Mike Trout (Angels), 1B/DH Jose Abreau (White Sox), slugger Nelson Cruz (Twins), and probable CY Young winner Shane Bieber (Indians), but I want to create the narrative on why DJ LeMahieu should be the 2020 A.L MVP.
For starters, DJ is the 2020 AL Batting Title Winner. Not only did he finish with the highest average in the AL, but highest in all of the MLB. This isn't his first go-around with the award. He came in 2nd last year in the AL, and won the title in the NL with Colorado in 2016. Side note, he is the first Yankee to win the title since Bernie Williams in 1998.
Wins-above-replacement is a buzzword that has been thrown around the MLB. Essentially it is a sabermetric baseball statistic used to sum up a player's total contributions to his team. With a 2.9 WAR, DJ LeMahieu ranks third amongst all players in the American League, and first amongst position players. That's pretty good, right?LeMahieu is not the flashiest guy on the field, but he is the definition of the word clutch. He is a consistent hitter and constantly brings in runs.
DJ isn't one to hit dazzling home runs, or flip bats higher than mountains, but he does boast impressive stats across the AL. All of which rank very highly amongst other candidates for the MVP.
American League Batting Leader Rankings: DJ LeMahieu
- 1st in batting average: .364
- 1st in all AL position player WAR: 2.9
- 1st in all offensive WAR: 2.8
- 1st in On-Base %: .421
- 1st in On-Base Plus Slugging: 1.011
- 1st in Adjusted OPS+ : 177
- 1st in Offensive Win %: .813
- T-1st in Adjusted Batting Runs: 21
- T-1st in Adjusted Batting Wins: 2.0
- 2nd in Hits: 71
- 2nd in Singles: 49
- 2nd in At Bat-per-Strikeout: 9.3
- 2nd in Situation Wins Added: 1.6
- 3rd in all AL WAR (Wins-Above-Replacement): 2.9
- T-3rd in Runs Created: 50
- T-4th in Runs Scored: 41
- 6th in Slugging %: .590
- 6th in Total Bases: 115
- T-8th in Triples: 2
To the common fan, a lot of these numbers are just stats that are not so visible to the average eye. I list all of these out because analytics are advancing the game of baseball. Ever since Billy Beane and "Moneyball", every team in the league is now using analytics to some degree. Analytically speaking, DJ LeMahieu is one of, if not, the best player in the American League. Numbers don't lie. There are plenty of reasons why LeMahieu should be the MVP, but at the end of the day, his bid for MVP will fall short.
If not DJ, another deserving member of this award would be everyone's favorite first baseman, Luke Voit. Voit took home the Home Run title with 22 but also ranks top 10 in at bats-per-HR (1st), RBI's (2nd), slugging % (2nd), on-base slugging (2nd), runs scored (4th), total bases (3rd), runs created (5th), adjusted OPS (6th), adjusted batting runs and wins (7th), extra-base hits (7th), offensive win % (7th), position player WAR (9th). There is no discrediting the other deserving candidates. Shane Bieber is pitching fantastically and is the epitome of an ace. Jose Abreau has similar stat lines to DJ as well. However, Mike Trout wins this award, they might as well just change it to the Trout-V-P trophy. The MVP should be the best player that leads his team to win. The Yankee bias will continue to live on.
If he is not the AL MVP, he is most certainly the Yankees MVP. DJ is slated to become a free agent after this season. If I were the Yanks, hand DJ a blank check. Boone said it perfectly, without DJ and Voit this season, the Yanks would not be in the playoffs. We haven't had a consistent and wonderful second baseman since a young Robinson Cano. Lock him up and get the man a world-series ring.
Photo: New York Times