Ranking 5 injured Yankees by potential playoff impact

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D.J. LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

3. DJ LeMahieu

Sadly, DJ LeMahieu’s return is another example of adding a strength-sapped version of a comeback player potentially being more harmful than never seeing that player again.

There was a time, not too long ago, when LeMahieu’s 2022 season was being heralded as a return to form. He’s been worth 3.8 WAR in 451 at-bats. As recently as July, he triple-slashed .344/.462/.490 in 25 games. In the first half, he posted a 125 OPS+ in 83 games.

Then, sadly, the Toe Stuff arrived. Toe Stuff, Foot Stuff’s awful cousin, turned LeMahieu into a powerless non-factor at the plate, sapping consistency from his swing and inducing rollover after rollover. LeMahieu’s OPS dropped from .951 in July to .550 in August, at which point fans were told that an IL stint wouldn’t completely solve the issue, and the gamer utility infielder would simply have to play through it.

“Nope!” said LeMahieu’s Numbers. Unable to drive off his back foot whatsoever, by early September it was clear there was no point to wedging a hobbled LeMahieu into the lineup every day. Oswaldo Cabrera instantly stepped into LeMahieu’s role in the starting lineup, and sparked New York, while Gleyber Torres’ sudden turnaround has made him indispensable at second base.

If the Yankees wanted to, they could start Cabrera at short, a healthy LeMahieu at second, Torres at DH, and Josh Donaldson at third, with Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield. But considering Stanton’s not ready for that, the team has no intention of burying Isiah Kiner-Falefa, there’s no true left fielder, and LeMahieu’s toe could still need healing, his return at anything less than 100% would present additional problems.

And even his return at 100% would kick someone essential out of the lineup. Stanton? Cabrera? The possibilities are endless…ly frustrating.