Many critics in New York said DJ LeMahieu was washed up after a mediocre 2021. He could not replicate what he had done in the Bronx in the 2019 and 2020 seasons and a sports hernia and other nagging injuries had a lot to do with his woes. Smart fantasy baseball managers took advantage in spring drafts as expectations were somewhat low for the former batting champion and is now paying off. It’s “Third Base Day” in the Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight Series. Every Thursday I break down a different MLB third baseman for your fantasy baseball lineups. Some weeks it is a prospect and others it may be a “Sell High”, “Buy Low” or even totally avoid at all costs-type player. Today I am going to dig into the offense of veteran DJ LeMahieu and tell you that he should be targeted in trades especially if you are looking for multi-positional runs and batting average player.



DJ LeMahieu Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight


LeMahieu, a two-time Gatorade High School Player of the Year in Michigan, had people questioning his talent before his college and MLB career even started. He was considered too tall and too slow for an infielder. LSU took a chance on the LeMahieu after he raked in a high school doubleheader that their scouts attended, and the rest is history. He helped lead the Tigers to the 2009 College World Series championship, batting a team-high .350 (96-for-274) with 57 runs, 43 RBIs, 13 doubles, five homers, four triples, and a .419 on-base percentage. LeMahieu was chosen to the CWS all-tournament team, batting .444 (12-for-27) with nine runs, four RBIs, one homer, a triple, and a double. He is known for his two-out two-run double in the ninth inning of Game 1 against Texas in the CWS championship finals that erased a 6-4 deficit, as LSU went on to defeat the Longhorns 7-6 in 11 innings.

The Cubs drafted him in the second round of the 2009 and LeMahieu headed to Chicago for his MLB debut in May of 2011 after hitting .358 (67-for-187) for their Double-A affiliate in Tennessee, which was the best in the Southern League, with two home runs and 27 RBI. Baseball America had LeMahieu as the 11th-ranked prospect in the Cubs organization heading into that season. After splitting time between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa during the 2011 season LeMahieu was traded to the Rockies during that next off-season. This would become known a decade later as one of the worst trades of the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer regime in Chicago. He became an All-Star in 2015 and in 2016 won the NL batting title with a .348 average. LeMahieu was selected to the All-Star game again in 2017 and after 8 seasons in Colorado, he signed with the Yankees in 2019.

After winning the Silver Slugger Award for the first time in his career in 2019, LeMahieu made a splash in his first season as a Yankee. He also was named All-MLB First Team for second base and finished fourth in MVP voting. LeMahieu also had an excellent 2020 season where he posted a 177 wRC+ and expectations were huge in 2021. After extending his contract with the Yankees for the next six years and coming off a terrific couple of years he just couldn’t replicate his 2019-20 success last season. He did finish with merely average production (100 wRC+) amid some nagging injuries and a sports hernia late in the season. So, as a result, expectations were somewhat low for this season.


The three-time batting champion reached 1,500 hits last month. This may not be the same player as the 2020 AL batting champ DJ LeMahieu, but he has been one of the most underrated players in the potent Yankees lineup. The veteran infielder is slashing .279/.383/.403 with a 786 OPS, eight home runs, 48 walks (top 5%), 56 runs scored, (top 5%), and a .383 OBP he has returned to the pre-2021 relevancy at 34-years old. He may not have the power that he once did, but he is walking more (career-high 13.4%) and has his highest barrel % (6.1) since 2019 (7.5). His barrel per plate appearance of 4.5 is a career-high. Many think that LeMahieu is just a shadow of his former All-Star self but with a Statcast expected batting average of .285, expected slugging of .427, and expected wOBA of .363 he is right on par with his career numbers and shows that positive regression should be occurring.


LeMahieu really has been solid this season. He is finally healthy and hitting up to LeMahieu's standards again.  The 2022 Yankees are a good baseball team and LeMahieu has been a big part of that. This is a low-strikeout, high-contact, can’t-shift-on-him hitter that every team is looking for nowadays. He is the type of hitter that has performed well against the best pitching on the biggest stages and who may finally get his World Series ring this year. He is now hitting .343 with a .409 wOBA and 163wRC+ over his last 20 games so is well worth an addition to your roster especially if you are lacking in the runs and batting average department.



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