Yankees' DJ LeMahieu Continues To Do the Unthinkable at the Plate in Pinstripes
NEW YORK — What can't DJ LeMahieu do?
This entire season, the Yankees' infielder—known in this neck of the woods as 'The Machine'—has been virtually unstoppable at the plate.
Entering play on Thursday, through 39 games thus far, the 31-year-old is hitting .373 (56-for-150). That's tied for the best batting average in all of Major League Baseball with Chicago's Tim Anderson.
LeMahieu's got nine home runs, he's scored 35 runs and has hit safely 33 of his 39 games played, including 17 of his last 20.
What LeMahieu was able to accomplish over his last two games, however, is a true testament to just how extraordinarily talented he is in the batter's box.
In New York's back-to-back blowout wins over the Toronto Blue Jays this week, LeMahieu went 7-for-10 with three home runs, three doubles and eight runs batted in.
"It’s definitely a good feeling going up to the plate, just being relaxed and being able to just go out and compete and not need to worry about mechanics or timing or anything, just go out there and compete and be loose," LeMahieu said. "When you’re in a good zone, it makes hitting a lot more fun."
After lining out to right-center field to lead off the bottom of the first inning on Tuesday, LeMahieu went on to reach in eight of his next nine plate appearances. From his final at-bat on Tuesday to the middle innings of a 13-2 win on Wednesday, LeMahieu had homered in three consecutive at-bats, including his fifth leadoff big fly of the season, the most in baseball.
"DJ is the freaking best hitter I've ever played with," Yankees' first baseman Luke Voit said. "He continues to keep raking."
At this point, it's no surprise to see the kind of numbers the veteran infielder is producing in the Bronx. After all, he's been swinging a scalding-hot bat at Yankee Stadium all season long.
LeMahieu has a 12-game hitting streak at home, his longest home hitting streak as a Yankee. Over 19 games in pinstripes in 2020, LeMahieu is hitting a whopping .415 (34-for-82).
What he pulled off in the eighth inning on Tuesday night, however, made his teammates throw up their hands and shake their heads in the Yankees' dugout in disbelief.
New York was winning 19-3 when he stepped into the box to lead off the frame, set to face Blue Jays' rookie infielder Santiago Espinal.
That's right. Espinal—a position player—had taken the mound to mop up for Toronto.
On the second pitch of the at-bat, Espinal lobbed a 48.7 mph pitch, slowly fading off the plate on the inside corner. LeMahieu waited on it, opening his front hip to uncork a gargantuan swing, sending the curveball 397 feet to straightaway left field.
"That just kind of lets the legend of The Machine to grow a little bit," Yankees' manager Aaron Boone said. "98, 48, 78, slider, fastball, it doesn’t matter. He’s just a special hitter."
Upon further review, LeMahieu's patience to wait on an eephus and deposit it into the bleachers wasn't just impressive. It was historic.
Since pitch-tracking data first became available in 2008, and as noted by MLB.com's Andrew Simon, the 49.7 mph lob thrown to LeMahieu was by far the slowest pitch to be hit out of the park in that span. The previous low, was a 53.5 mph pitch from Dodgers' Vicente Padilla to Ike Davis of the New York Mets on July 23, 2010.
For context, LeMahieu's two home runs on Wednesday came on pitches with velocities north of 90 mph. That's just under double the speed of the slow pitch he took over the wall one day prior.
While he likely won't need to wait on any more eephus pitches this season, LeMahieu is locked in with his sights set on the second batting title of his career. If he can keep lacing extra base hits almost every night, as New York's previously hobbled lineup returns to full strength, the Bombers could be bound for a deep postseason run this October.
"Just seeing the ball good right now," LeMahieu said. "I feel like my power numbers usually come in bunches and it’s definitely been the case these last few days."
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