Yankees: 3 players NYY need more from in second half of season

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 08: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by DJ LeMahieu #26 after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game Four of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 08, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 08: Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by DJ LeMahieu #26 after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning in Game Four of the American League Division Series at PETCO Park on October 08, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

2. DJ LeMahieu

We’re seeing glimpses of the return of DJ LeMahieu. The leadoff hitter that’s made the offense “go” for two years has not been the same in 2021. He was hovering around .250 for a little while, and boy did it feel a lot worse than that.

Now, DJ is slashing .273/.346/.375 with 43 runs scored, seven homers and 30 RBI. Really not bad. But not “Team MVP”-caliber. If the Yankees want to be the Yankees, they need LeMahieu wearing down opposing pitchers in his first at-bat of the game or getting ahead of the first pitch to notch a hit. Too many times has the offense had its head cut off because DJ’s been unable to get the party started.

Let’s get a few more extra-base hits in there, too. LeMahieu slugged .518 and .590 in 2019 and 2020. Where did it all go?! But everything’s wrong with the Yankees this year. In fact, they have a losing record when LeMahieu records more than one hit! Go figure.

Nonetheless, any uptick in production from DJ will make life easier for Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luke Voit, etc. You know how it works, you’ve seen it happen. Yes, those guys also need to step up in a multitude of ways, whether it’s putting the ball in play in big moments or simply showing up on a nightly basis, but it all starts with LeMahieu.

It’s unfortunate he’s dealing with that type of pressure, but he earned a sizable contract after proving he’s integral to this team. It also doesn’t help he’s dealing with the New York fan base, either.