Brian Cashman signed the second baseman from Colorado to a 2-year, $24 million contract running through the 2020 season. In what was initially thought to be a depth signing, LeMahieu ended up, arguably, the Yankees’ MVP of the 2019 season.
His 2019 season saw him hit for a .327 average with 26 home runs and 102 RBI. His OPS topped out at .893, with the league average sitting at .758. LeMahieu also saw himself playing at third and first base, which was the first time he played at either position since the 2014 season.
LeMahieu will be expected to continue being a producer at the top of the lineup for the 2020 season. These are three bold expectations for the 31-year old veteran.
Break his personal best batting average
There would be no better way for LeMahieu to show his worthiness than to hit for a higher average than he did last year. He is not just going to hit higher than .327, but he should go for anything higher than .348, which he accomplished in 2016.
Luckily for LeMahieu, this does not seem like too much of an overbearing task. If the 2020 season is played out, the full 162 game schedule will be cut in half, which could make it a lot easier to hit for a higher average.
On the other hand, LeMahieu may be walking into the regular season not having seen live pitching in over three months. It may take him many at-bats to get used to the pitching again, but LeMahieu is a simple hitter who does not seem to go into extended slumps.
It may be a tough task to accomplish, even with a shortened season, but it is nothing too far-fetched for LeMahieu.
Win the AL MVP
He may have been awarded the 2019 Yankees’ MVP, but it is time for LeMahieu to win his first MVP award. LeMahieu finished behind Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Marcus Semien in voting for the 2019 AL MVP. It is the highest he has ever placed.
What makes this expectation so bold is that he would have to rank higher than Trout, who has already won three MVP awards by his age-29 season. He is a dominant five-tool player, who is always in MVP talks annually.
But that does not mean LeMahieu cannot have a better season than Trout. It will take numbers that are significantly better than Trout’s for him to even be considered in the same breath as the Angels’ centerfielder.
Even if he is just the AL MVP of a half-season, the award will still count the same on his resumé.
Lead the Yankees to a World Series win
The Yankees cannot single-handedly win a World Series all because of LeMahieu. But he can be their leader in winning a World Series.
LeMahieu was able to keep the Yankees’ season alive during Game 6 of the ALCS, hitting a home run with two outs in the top of the 9th inning to tie the game. Although Aroldis Chapman would give up a walk-off home run to Jose Altuve to send the Astros to the World Series, LeMahieu still gave Yankees fans that sign of hope.
Whether he has an MVP caliber season or not, LeMahieu will be able to provide valuable offense and defense, barring any major injury. If he can even hit .290 and be a solid leadoff man, he will be doing his part. But the expectation is for him to take that extra step and lead them to their first World Series victory since 2009.
If he cannot be as valuable of a hitter in the postseason, it may put an end to the Yankees’ season. That is how important he will be.