DJ LeMathieu’s struggles cause concern for Yankees

DJ LeMathieu in action for the New York Yankees
Julio Cortez / AP

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DJ LeMahieu made an unusual appearance on the field during the New York Yankees2-10 loss to the Mariners on Thursday night. He confidently strode from the far end of the team’s dugout, traversing the warning track in foul territory and passing first base before finally reaching second base. Throughout his journey, LeMahieu remained focused on his path.

This moment has coincided with a challenging phase in DJ LeMahieu’s season. As displayed on the center field scoreboard at Yankee Stadium, his batting average was a disappointing ‘.228’ late in the season. 

Seeing a typically reliable player having an off night was quite surprising. On top of that, the Yankees suffered a crushing defeat, compounded by Domingo German‘s below-par showing on the same evening.

DJ LeMathieu’s 2023 numbers fall short of expectations

DJ LeMahieu holding a bat.
AP

This season has proven to be the least successful in DJ LeMahieu‘s career. His strikeout frequency has increased, and his batting average has declined by 50 points over the past six weeks. While the Yankees have reassured fans regarding LeMahieu’s health, it’s worth considering that he may not be operating at his optimal physical condition. Lingering effects from a previous foot fracture could impact his ability to connect with pitches and perform at his usual level.

Following the Yankees’ defeat, DJ LeMahieu chose not to address the media directly. Instead, a team representative said he was utilizing the hot and cold tub and planned to speak with reporters the following day. Manager Aaron Boone fielded questions about the incident and its potential influence on LeMahieu’s performance, considering various factors.

The Yankees coach expresses concern over DJ LeMathieu

New York Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu hits an RBI-single to score Andrew Benintendi during the third inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Corey Sipkin

Aaron Boone had expressed concerns before the game about LeMahieu’s struggles at the plate this year, characterizing them as “odd.” Currently, LeMahieu’s strikeout rate is among the highest in baseball, standing at 27 percent. It represents a significant increase compared to his previous seasons with the team, during which he struck out only 13.2 percent of the time.

In his last 15 games, DJ LeMahieu has struggled with a meager .140 batting average, tallying eight hits in 57 at-bats, accompanied by 18 strikeouts. His on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) through 62 games is disappointing at .668, a level he hasn’t experienced in nearly a decade.

DJ LeMahieu’s batting average is down and his strikeouts are up this season.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

One potential explanation for LeMahieu’s struggles could be a mechanical issue. Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson recently addressed specific problems in LeMahieu’s swing, prompting his absence from four of the last five games before his return on Thursday. This break aimed to provide a reset and allow him more time to work on his technique in the batting cage.

Even though LeMahieu has been trying hard, his performance in Thursday’s game was not up to the mark. He struck out twice, hit a routine infield pop-out, and a weak ground ball to third, which suggests that he is still trying to find his rhythm.

Overcoming such challenges and breaking free from an extended slump takes time for any player. LeMahieu will remain with the Yankees under contract for four more years with a remaining salary of $60 million. 

AP

Patience from the team becomes crucial, particularly when other key players like Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton are also experiencing significant struggles. This magnifies the impact of LeMahieu’s decline on the team’s overall performance.

Although DJ LeMahieu experienced some setbacks in 2023, his teammates are confident in his capacity to recover and achieve greater success. Fans are eagerly anticipating his return to top form on the field, and any concerns about his current performance must not obscure his immense potential for success.

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