DJ LeMahieu brought his Big Fundamentals to the plate over the weekend in Tampa, going 6-for-12 with a walk and a trio of homers.
Though his performance was particularly loud over the weekend, it wasn't out of character for his second half. LeMahieu has made genuine progress -- while shrugging off a calf injury -- as the Yankees' season plummeted into obscurity. We forgive you if you haven't noticed, but a second-half triple slash of .315/.420/.496 with a .915 OPS is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it seemed like LeMahieu and the Yankees were on the cliff's edge entering the final three years of his contract.
LeMahieu's first-half OPS? .643. It remains unclear how long LeMahieu will be able to hold onto a full-time gig in a crowded infield, but any sustained spark is a great sign for a contract that felt like one of many sunk costs in July.
It could be happenstance or an extended toe injury shake-off ... but ... LeMahieu credits the connection he's made with hitting coach Sean Casey for his second-half turnaround. Whether Casey comes back or not is anyone's guess, and not every Yankee hitter has made similar strides. But LeMahieu's vote of confidence should be a ringing endorsement that whoever the Yankees' 2024 hitting coach is has to connect with players the same way Casey has, and must preach the same pivot away from Dillon Lawson's fundamentals.
Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu turning corner thanks to Sean Casey?
It makes ... the most sense ever that the mild-mannered LeMahieu had very little time for Lawson's scheme, considering he'd made his entire career out of defying analytical models with his surprisingly potent bat and ability to step up, collect himself and breathe in crucial moments.
It's surprising, though, that he's meshed so well with Casey's massive personality, considering LeMahieu has said between three and five words during the entire course of his Yankees tenure.
While LeMahieu and Casey have reportedly done some mechanical corrective work on his lower half, the bond they've forged over Casey's time in Detroit ('06 AL champs, baby) has done significant work in grounding the 35-year-old Yankee, too.
Whether Casey returns long-term or not, LeMahieu will always be able to access that relationship moving forward whenever he needs a confidence boost. Considering how low both he and the Yankees were in mid-July, it's refreshing to know that even as he ages, the back of LeMahieu's baseball card has not yet begun to lie.