Yankees: Making the case for DJ LeMahieu to win the MVP Award
Here’s why DJ LeMahieu should be the first member of the Yankees since 2007 to win the AL MVP Award Thursday night.
In his two years as a member of the New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu has been nothing short of tremendous. His presence at the top of the lineup kickstarts the offense and his defensive versatility helps manager Aaron Boone more than we know.
And for the second straight year, he is a finalist for the American League MVP Award. Last year he somehow finished fourth in the voting.
This time around, the other two 2020 finalists are Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox.
The Yankees’ success over the last two years has largely been because of LeMahieu. On a team that has been devastated with injuries for three straight seasons, he has been one of the few who has missed just a handful of games. In the shortened 2020 campaign, he missed 10 games due to a thumb injury.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu led the American League with a career-high .364 batting average and he also finished with a career-high .421 on-base percentage. DJLM’s 10 home runs were second on the team, only to Luke Voit, who led all of baseball with 22 blasts, and his 10 doubles was good for second, which was just one behind team-leader Gio Urshela.
He also ended the season with a 1.011 OPS. Even in 50 games, that’s still impressive. But what’s more impressive is LeMahieu finished with 19 multi-hit games out of 50. A contact hitter who sprays the ball all over the park, he was still able to flirt with .400 despite the drastic rise in defensive shifts.
Ramirez, who missed just two games this season, finished 2020 with a slash line of .293/.386/.607 with 17 homers and 46 RBI. Of the three finalists, he finished with the lowest WAR at 2.2.
Abreu didn’t miss a game in 2020 and slashed .317/.370/.617 for the White Sox. His 19 home runs were only second to Voit in the AL, but he had the same WAR (2.8) as DJ. Some are saying the slugging first baseman is going to run away with the award, but we all know how unpredictable the voting process is each year.
And the one big aspect to consider here is that, without LeMahieu, the case could be made that the Yankees would not have been in the playoffs, even with 16 teams making it to October this past season. The White Sox likely still had enough firepower to last from start to finish, but LeMahieu (and Voit) did their work to keep the Yankees afloat amid another batch of significant injuries and a number of under-performing players.
He should be the first Yankees MVP winner since Alex Rodriguez in 2007. If he doesn’t win the award, one could say that’ll be a bigger disappointment than him finishing in fourth last year.