It was only a few weeks ago that Aaron Boone was asked about removing DJ LeMahieu from the leadoff position.
That question was posed pregame on June 8 when LeMahieu was slashing .253/.335/.321 with three home runs through his first 56 games. Those were hardly the worst numbers among the team’s beleaguered lineup, but LeMahieu was a top-four MVP finisher the previous two years and the 2020 batting champ. The erratic Yankees, meanwhile, had just been swept by the Red Sox at home. LeMahieu went 0-5 in the 10-inning series finale.
It was fair to wonder if Boone was considering any lineup changes, but LeMahieu’s spot atop the order was not one of them.
“No, no,” the manager said when asked about possibly changing LeMahieu’s slot. “When I sat down and thought about the couple different ways I wanted to go, DJ was still in there at the top… It’s gonna take the entire lineup doing their job to make sure we’re meeting expectations. A big part of that is DJ at the top.”
Fast forward to present day and the Yankees are once again coming off a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox. They are in fourth place and just three games above .500. New York’s play has often been sloppy, the offense insufficient.
So far, this has not looked like a team with championship aspirations.
"Inconsistency has kind of defined us so far,” Boone said Sunday at Fenway Park. “We've got to find a way to be more consistent."
While the Yankees have failed in that search so far, LeMahieu appears to have figured things out. His bat was one of the only silver linings from New York’s trip to Beantown, as he went 7-14 with one homer, two runs and four RBI in the three-game series.
LeMahieu’s recent success was not limited to this past weekend, either. Rather, he is hitting .333/.383/.547 with four dingers and 15 RBI in the 17 games since that lineup question was asked of Boone. The infielder has eight multi-hit games over that stretch.
“I feel fine,” the always-succinct but somber LeMahieu said Saturday after his four-hit, two-RBI, one-homer evening wasn’t enough to lift the Yankees over the Red Sox. “Yeah, I mean, I feel good at the plate.”
While LeMahieu was clearly more concerned about his team’s loss than his own performance that night, his regained stroke at the top of the order is crucial to whatever chances the Yankees have of making something out of this season. Boone recognized that even when LeMahieu was struggling.
“If this is gonna work wholeheartedly,” Boone said back on June 8, “we need to get him rolling like the MVP candidate he’s been the last couple of years for us.”
Right now, LeMahieu is rolling accordingly. We’ll see if the Yankees follow suit.
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