LeMahieu’s case is an exception for hitting coach Sean Casey

LeMahieu hit two home runs to ensure the Yankees beat the Rays 6-2 at Tropicana Field on August 25, 2023.

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St. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Since Sean Casey became the new hitting coach for the Yankees, the team’s offense has not been better. However, DJ LeMahieu is an exception to this, as his performance on Saturday indicated.

In Friday’s 6-2 victory against the Rays at Tropicana Field, LeMahieu showed just how powerful he can be by hitting two home runs in a game for the first time in over two years. He gave the credit to Sean Casey for helping him improve his hitting, which has led to him hitting three home runs in his last three games. Before this, he had only hit one home run in 44 games.

LeMahieu has all praise for Sean Casey

LeMahieu struggled to hit well in the first part of the season, but he improved a lot after the All-Star break. This coincided with the taking over by Sean Casey as the Yankees’ hitting coach.

According to LeMahieu, Sean Casey has been a significant source of assistance for him and he found a strong connection with the hitting coach deriving positive energy.

LeMahieu admitted that he and Sean Casey share similar approaches to the game and hitting and the former’s guidance has been valuable to him. He also mentioned that a lot of the things Casey said reminded him of other challenging times in his career that he has overcome.

“I don’t think you have to be a .300 hitter to be a good coach,’’ LeMahieu said. “We have similar approaches to the game and to hitting. A lot of stuff he said brings me back to other [rough] times in my career that I’ve come out of. He’s been helpful.”

Both LeMahieu and Aaron Boone agreed that the main improvement came from a small adjustment in how LeMahieu positioned his legs and feet. This change helped him swing the bat faster and keep it in the hitting area for a longer time, which has led to more powerful hits. The two home runs he hit on Friday were directed toward the left field.

Before Friday’s game, LeMahieu had an OPS of .811 since the All-Star break. This is much better than his OPS in the first half of the season, which was only .643.

General manager Brian Cashman stated on Wednesday that the reason he chose Sean Casey, a former All-Star with a 12-year major league career in which he finished with a .302 average, to become the new hitting coach after the All-Star break was because Casey would be able to establish a strong connection with players.

Is LeMahieu’s struggle over?

Gerrit Cole mentioned that the game poses challenges for everyone but acknowledged that DJ is a great player. Besides his newfound power, LeMahieu’s ability to get on base has greatly improved in the second half, with a .407 on-base percentage, a significant increase from the low .285 he had before the break.

The 35-year-old player had injuries in 2021 and 2022. During these years, he had seasons that weren’t as good as before, especially after two fantastic years when he first joined the New York Yankees.

However, he has been more aggressive when batting recently, and this strategy worked out really well for him on Friday. On that day, LeMahieu hit the ball hard three times with a lot of power. He hit two home runs, and during the third inning, he hit a single right up the middle with a speed of over 100 mph as it left the bat.

He also walked in the seventh inning. Boone was happy to see LeMahieu’s turnaround and commented that it was a great thing to see. 

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