April 8, 2022

Debunking the DJ LeMahieu "problem"

I've heard many pundits sound baffled by Brian Cashman's decision to go into the season with no set spot for DJ LeMahieu. I'm here to shed some light into what I think Cash is thinking.

1. Injuries: To state the obvious, it was a miracle the Yankees actually left spring training with all 10 key lineup cogs intact, especially oft-injured Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson. The reality is, there's little to no chance the Yankees will make it through all season without a position player injury. As you'll see below, as soon as any starter goes down, DJ will have a secure everyday spot in the lineup.

2. Versatility: Let's review the Opening Day lineup but with Gleyber Torres in there instead. Unlike the Joe Torre days where the Yankees would put out three different lineups all season long, Aaron Boone could have 140+ lineups this season. Almost all of these guys will get regular days off, Boone is going to mix and match his lineup based on the opposing starting pitcher, etc. 

1. Josh Donaldson 3B – DJ can spell Donaldson at 3B
2. Aaron Judge RF – DJ can DH while Stanton can spell Judge in RF
3. Anthony Rizzo 1B – DJ can spell Rizzo at 1B
4. Giancarlo Stanton DH – DJ can spell Stanton at DH,
5. Gleyber Torres 2B – DJ can spell Torres at 2B
6. Joey Gallo LF – DJ can DH while Stanton spells Gallo in LF
7. Aaron Hicks CF – DJ can DH while Judge spells Hicks in CF and Stanton goes to RF
8. Kyle Higashioka C – DJ can DH while Jose Trevino spells Higgy at C
9. Isiah Kiner-Falefa SS – DJ can DH while Marwin Gonzalez spells IKF at SS

3. Performance: One of DJ's greatest attributes is his consistency. Many other players in this lineup have tendencies to be streaky, especially Stanton. As outlined above, DJ can give a starter going through a tough stretch a break.

Streaks aside, DJ is flat-out better than Torres, Hicks and Gallo, the three I see sitting the most this season – not DJ. That's why we saw DJ in the Opening Day lineup. Hicks and Gallo will continue to struggle mightily without a change in approach this season (take the free single or even double with a bunt to third base when the shift is on) and Torres needs to prove early on that playing shortstop last year held back his hitting.

Still think Boone won't be able to find DJ 500 AB's this season?

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