4 Yankees who need to live up to their contracts in 2022
3. DJ LeMahieu
Without question, DJ LeMahieu was the Yankees’ MVP in 2019 and 2020, rightfully earning a six-year, $90 million contract before the start of 2021. In those two seasons with New York, LeMahieu was a Silver Slugger and top-four MVP finisher. Incredible!
But then came this past season when he apparently battled a core muscle injury for most of the campaign (which was also affected by Rob Manfred removing the juiced ball). LeMahieu saw a considerable dip in his power numbers and batted a pedestrian .268, which is nowhere close to his career average of .300.
After slugging between .518 and .590 across 195 games, that number dipped to .362 across 150 in 2021. After hitting 36 home runs in his first 195 games with the Yankees, he hit just 10 last year. Concerning? A bit … but LeMahieu has never really hit for power throughout his career. His claim to fame was his contact rate and ability to hit the ball to all fields.
Fans don’t expect him to be the team MVP again and again … but can we meet somewhere in the middle? Maybe a .290-.300 average with 50+ extra-base hits? Keep the charge going at the top of the lineup?
Can’t have a below-average 97 OPS+ at the top of the lineup. LeMahieu proved he was the engine that helped the Yankees offense chug along with this 2019 and 2020 performances … but it became more evident after his 2021 regression.