LeMahieu is pronounced La-May-Hugh.
LeMahieu was born in Visalia, California, then moved to Las Vegas for one year when he was 7 years old. The family then lived in Madison, Wisconsin for five years, before moving to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
"I lived in five states before becoming a pro baseball player: Colorado (7 years), Nevada (1 year), Wisconsin (5 years), Michigan (5 years) and Louisiana (3 years).
D.J. credits his Dad, Tom, with teaching him “how to play baseball the right way."
Tom played college baseball at a small Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa, called Dordt College (renamed Dordt University in 2019), where on April 9, 1977, he hit for the cycle against Yankton. From the beginning, he nurtured his son’s love for baseball, taking him to Spring Training games in Arizona when DJ was just a toddler. Tom and his son talk just about every day, with “probably 75 percent” of the conversation hovering around baseball.
“My dad’s still kind of my mentor,” LeMahieu says. “He’s had just a huge impact on my career, for sure.”
When DJ was 7, the LeMahieu family moved from California to Las Vegas. A year later, they packed up for Madison, Wis., where they stayed for five years until they moved to Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. LeMahieu enrolled at Brother Rice High School, a private all-boys Catholic school with a nationally renowned baseball program. But the family’s moves were not part of some grand plan to groom their son for the big leagues. A review of Joan’s curriculum vitae makes that plain to see.
Joan LeMahieu’s mother grew up on a small farm in rural British Columbia, the daughter of hard-working Dutch immigrants who lived through World War II. Joan’s mother dropped out of school in the Netherlands after seventh grade, but she encouraged her daughters to set their sights on attending college. Joan heeded her mother’s words and, after working on the family farm from a young age and working at a bank to pay her own way at Dordt, began a highly successful career in venue management, event development and hospitality. She specialized in the planning and opening of large venues such as stadiums, convention centers and multipurpose centers.
The Detroit Lions were getting set to open Ford Field around the start of the millennium and needed someone to spearhead the project. They were impressed by what Joan had accomplished at Madison’s Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center and hired her as general manager of the 65,000-seat stadium. The opening of Ford Field in 2002 was lauded as a rousing success, and The Detroit News named Joan LeMahieu one of its Business Women of the Year.
It must have been pretty cool for a teenage boy to have a mom running Ford Field, scoring backstage passes to WrestleMania and eating all the free hot dogs he wanted … right?
“She put me to work,” LeMahieu counters. “I was always, like, working in the warehouse and stuff like that.”
LeMahieu understood from an early age that his compassionate, yet hard-working parents would always do what was best for the family. Nearly two decades later, those values and lessons remain part of LeMahieu’s DNA, as his Yankees teammates marvel at his work ethic and dedication to his craft. (Nathan Maciborski - Yankees Magazine - Sept. 2020)
LeMahieu was born in Visalia, California. But his parents—Tom, a computer consultant, and Joan, a facility manager—often moved to pursue their careers. The family lived in California until he was 7, spent a year in Las Vegas, spent five years in Madison, Wis., and five key years in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. His Dad was his coach on youth teams, but when the LeMahieus moved to Michigan and D.J. attended Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, he began his ninth-grade year at the back of the line.
"Our team went to the state finals the year before, and there were a lot of returning guys—shortstop was set, second base was set," LeMahieu said. "I came in and started at second. I was playing well. Actually, the guy at shortstop was a senior and his brother was our assistant coach. And the assistant coach says, 'Hey, you need to move my brother out of short and put D.J. there.' So the brother moved to second. For me, that was kind of a big moment. I was pretty intimidated at the start of that year, but I learned I could do it."
In his junior year in high school, D.J. was an Aflac All-American. He was also a two-time Gatorade player of the year and Louisville Slugger Player of the Year for the State of Michigan.
D.J. and Pat Ebbing have been best friends since their freshman year at Brother Rice High School
Ebbing, the best man when LeMahieu married his college sweetheart, Jordan, in 2014, describes him as “one of the most quiet and humble guys you’ll ever meet. He’s just a bring-your-lunch-pail-to-work kind of guy, kind of blue collar.” Then as now, LeMahieu was a fierce competitor for whom no situation was too big, whose words carried much weight as a result of being dispensed so infrequently.
But Ebbing also notes some of the quirks and personality traits that have remained unchanged over the years. “Ultra-loyal” to his roots, LeMahieu lives in Birmingham, just a few miles away from Brother Rice. He’s a Red Wings season-ticket holder, rarely missing a game at Little Caesars Arena during baseball’s offseason. He loves playing cards with his friends.
“For a multimillionaire, he’s one of the most frugal poker players you’ll ever meet. And then the guy just doesn’t make a mistake,” Ebbing says with a laugh. And he’s a chess wizard, once defeating Ebbing in four moves.
Far from some robot programmed just to play baseball, “The Machine” also has a huge heart.
“What most people don’t know about Deej is that he’s one of the most caring people,” Ebbing says. “My daughter is autistic and calls him ‘Uncle Too-Day’ because it sounds like DJ. DJ’s just really good with her because he’s soft-spoken, he’s not demonstrative and he’s kind of like a gentle giant. It’s been pretty neat as a best friend seeing him become almost like an uncle to my daughter, Sophia Rose.” (Nathan Maciborski - Yankees Magazine - Sept. 2020)
In 2007, LeMahieu's senior year at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he committed to a baseball scholarship to Louisiana State University. And he did not sign with the Tigers, who chose him in the 41st round of the 2007 draft.
In the summer of 2008, D.J. was named the No. 6 prospect in the Cape Cod League by Baseball America magazine. He was the regular season MVP for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League, batting .290 (31-for-107) with five doubles, one homer, 13 RBI, and 16 runs in 28 games.
LeMahieu went to college at LSU. He says people think he's from Louisiana because of his French last name. In 2009, he helped them get to the College World Series while hitting .350 for the Tigers. "It was the best moment of my life," D.J. said.
- In 2009, LeMahieu got drafted by the Cubs (see Transactions below).
In 2010, Baseball America rated LeMahieu as the 10th-best prospect in the Cubs' organization. He was at #13 in both the spring of 2011 and again in 2012.
D.J. has a very good baseball mind. He just knows how to play the game and does everything you have to do to help you win. His mental toughness is very impressive. He is a throwback out of the mold of Mark Lemke and David Eckstein.
- LeMahieu doesn't stand out. Beyond the light purple college name and number, "LSU 17," stitched on his glove, his fashion is standard issue. Good luck finding a snazzy or controversial quote. He rarely posts on the @DJLeMahieu Twitter account. As for LeMahieu, he's just, you know, there.
Well, LeMahieu is there all right—with uncanny regularity. Wherever he is needed, LeMahieu shows up and provides it. Even LeMahieu's highlights have a way of not being visible. LeMahieu isn't into grabbing attention that isn't based on trying to win games. "I probably wouldn't be the first pick for a reality show," LeMahieu said, laughing.
Actually, LeMahieu is the fellow who shows up on a reality show without a shtick and in the end is walking away with the prize briefcase.
LeMahieu provides exactly what he exudes—stability. "I don't think he's grown on me," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought when I saw him at the beginning of the season, he was a good player. He's been very steady for us. He's been productive on both sides of the ball. He's a solid player, a winning player."
"He wants to beat the other team every minute that he's on the field," said Glenallen Hill, who managed LeMahieu at Colorado Springs. "It's hard to see that sometimes but lock in on him and watch him for nine innings, and you can see his intent."
"I go into every game wanting to be perfect," LeMahieu said. "That doesn't usually happen, but that's my goal. And I'm playing to win. I'm not the type of player that's going to put up huge numbers, but I've got to be the kind of player that helps a team win, whether it's doing the little things or coming up big in a certain situation."
June 20, 2015: LeMahieu is letting his father sleep a little more these days. He's not rousing dad from bed at some dawn hour, wanting to get in several hours of baseball before it gets too hot outside.
But Tom LeMahieu still brings a smile to the face of his son. As MLB.com celebrates Father's Day, the LeMahieus celebrate a relationship that began as playmate-to-playmate and stayed that way even though dad was teaching and raising him. As a toddler and through elementary school, D.J. depended on his dad to teach him how to compete, usually through made-up games, and father doubled as his coach until high school. But now, D.J.'s father plays a way more important role.
"He didn't play in the Major Leagues, didn't claim to play in the Major Leagues," LeMahieu said. "But for me, he's the guy who's always positive. At this point in my career, you need all the positive you can get. It's real easy to be hard on yourself in the big leagues. I talk to him almost every day. I'll go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and he'll somehow find the positive out of it."
All the expensive lessons and expert coaches combined can't do for a player what Tom LeMahieu did for his son. The LeMahieus were living in Visalia, Calif., when D.J. was about 4 and taken by the game of baseball. Days in the Central Valley quickly grew hot, so any daytime activity needs to happen early. D.J. made sure to that.
"My dad would hit me ground balls and throw batting practice, and we made it a game," a smiling LeMahieu said. "He'd hit me 10 ground balls. If I misplayed one, it was a run for him. Then he'd throw me BP and we'd play a normal inning. We'd play nine innings, almost every day. For me at a young age, fielding ground balls was always competitive. If I missed a ball, it could cost me a run."
There was another penalty for missing. "I had to run it down if I missed it."
His father had the philosophy from the old "Fat Albert" cartoon: Fun, and if you're not careful you may learn something before it's done.
"I didn't want it to become something where he was getting tired of it," said Tom LeMahieu. "Every now and then, I'd ask, 'Do you still want to play?' And he'd say, 'Oh, yeah.' Not only did he want to do it, but he was competitive about it. Even to this day, if you come up with something to do and make a game out of it, he's into it."
"He became more of a mentor than a coach," LeMahieu said. "A lot of dads, they want their hands on everything. For him to step back and say, 'Your coaches are your coaches, so do what they say and listen to them,' that was perfect. He's not a know-it-all, doesn't claim to be." (T Harding - MLB.com - June 19, 2015)
In 2015, LeMahieu was selected to the All-Star Game. For D.J., it was a night of recognition, finding himself in the starting lineup at second base when Dee Gordon was scratched with an injury. He kept his focus on his approach to hitting, lining out to center field in the third and lining out to right field in the fifth.
Sept 30, 2016: LeMahieu exited the Rockies' 4-1 win over the Brewers after the third inning. It will likely be the last time LeMahieu plays this season, as he effectively clinches the National League batting title. LeMahieu started the game 0-for-2 with a fielder's choice and fly out but still leads Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy .3478 to .3472. And Murphy is battling a left gluteal strain and hasn't played since Sept. 20.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss previously said that he would be willing to manipulate LeMahieu's playing time to help him secure the batting title, since it is won over 162 games and not any one game.
"It's a unique situation because Murphy is injured and not playing," Weiss said before the game. "If he's playing, they can fight it out, but I don't want DJ to lose a batting title that way. So, yeah, I'm going to pay attention to the math. I'm going to take care of the guys who take care of our team." (T Harding - MLB.com - Oct 1, 2016)
D.J. and his wife Jordan, have a Pomeranian-Husky mix named Coors.
"According to my dad, the nickname D.J. (rather than David John) started when I began playing baseball at age 5," LeMahieu said. "David John was too long and did not sound like a baseball player's name, he said."
June 27, 2019: Second Base AL—DJ LeMahieu, Yankees (2nd ASG start)
LeMahieu gets the chance to start an All-Star Game in both leagues. He started the 2015 Midsummer Classic while with the Rockies, and now he'll start for the AL in his first season as a Yankee. (LeMahieu was an All-Star in 2017, too, but didn't play in the game.) In his pinstripes debut, he's leading the AL batting race with a .336 average.
That gives LeMahieu a chance to become the first player in the modern era to win a batting title in both leagues, after he took home the NL crown in 2016 with Colorado. The Rockies fans still love LeMahieu—he got 66% of the NL second base vote from the Colorado market.
July 16, 2019: LeMahieu received the MLB Players Alumni Association "Heart and Hustle" award for the Yankees. This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
D.J. is quiet. He's interesting, but he's reserved. He's unheralded, but he's an All-Star.
He's The Machine . . . La Machina. He is a soft voice with a big stick for the 2019 Yankees.
2019 Season: Most of DJ LeMahieu’s big hits this season with runners in scoring position were accompanied by the soundtrack of Gary Sánchez walking the length of the Yankees’ dugout, proudly announcing to anyone in sight: “The Machine! The Machine!”
It was an in-house nickname that exhibited staying power, certainly more than LeMahieu’s Rockies-issued moniker of “Big Fundy,” which the star infielder wore on the back of his Players' Weekend jersey in August. LeMahieu chuckled when asked about Sánchez’s loud take on his plate discipline and efficiency, exhibiting perhaps the coolest approach in the Bombers’ lineup.
“I prepare for big at-bats so when they come up, I'm not surprised by them,” said LeMahieu, who led the Majors with a .389 (49-for-126) batting average with runners in scoring position. “I just feel like I'm ready for them. I think our lineup is so good that if I don't come through or someone else doesn't come through, it's not the end of the game. It's not the end of the world. “The next guy behind me is obviously a really good hitter, too. I don't feel too much pressure in those situations and I don't think our team does, clearly, because we put up a lot of runs.”
As general manager Brian Cashman detailed recently, there was some question how LeMahieu would fit into their plans for 2019. The club expected to go into the season with Miguel Andújar at third base, Gleyber Torres at second and either Greg Bird or Luke Voit at first, so Cashman was confused when several members of his front office staff continued to push for a LeMahieu signing.
“He’s been a game-changer for this roster and this franchise,” Cashman said. “It worked out extremely well and to our benefit, and so I thank those individuals for pushing it—and I’ll pat myself on the back for hiring people smarter than me.”
What went right in 2019?
LeMahieu’s two-year, $24 million contract was one of the best signings of last offseason by any team, as his .327 batting average was the highest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter hit .334 in 2009. Along the way, LeMahieu set career highs in runs (109), hits (197), home runs (26), extra-base hits (61), RBIs (102) and a Major League-leading 61 multi-hit games.
“I think the chance to be a Yankee is special,” LeMahieu said. “Looking from the outside in the last couple of years, the talent here is something I wanted to be a part of. It’s even better than I thought. Just how they run things, the commitment to winning here is like nothing I've been a part of.”
A three-time NL Gold Glover at second base, LeMahieu showed his range by becoming the first player in franchise history to start at least 25 games at three infield positions—28 starts at first base, 66 starts at second and 47 starts at third.
“Honestly, I've gotten used to it,” LeMahieu said. “I think in Spring Training, I was so focused on my defense and I took so many ground balls. I think as the season has gone on, I've gotten in a pretty good routine.”
The AL’s Player of the Month for June, LeMahieu earned his third career All-Star selection in 2019, and he enjoyed four hitting streaks of at least 10 games, tied with Tim Anderson of the White Sox for the most in the Majors. LeMahieu was also one of the few members of the Opening Day roster to avoid a stint on the injured list.
What went wrong in 2019?
Good luck finding much that belongs in this category. If you want to nit-pick, maybe we can include that LeMahieu fell eight points shy of winning what could have been his second batting title. LeMahieu says that he “hates striking out,” and he did it 90 times in 602 at-bats. That's nothing compared to some of the big swingers in the lineup, but LeMahieu would probably prefer it were closer to zero.
LeMahieu’s offensive approach translated into October, as he batted .325 with three homers and seven RBIs across nine postseason games, but he committed three errors. LeMahieu dropped a CJ Cron popup in the second inning of Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Twins, though it didn’t cost the Yanks a run. He also booted an Alex Bregman grounder in the sixth inning and misplayed a Yuli Gurriel grounder in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS against the Astros.
Best moment in 2019?
You can make a case for LeMahieu’s game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, which had the Yankees oh-so-close to extending their season, but we’ll select one with a happier ending. On Aug. 31 at Yankee Stadium, LeMahieu hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning, powering a 4-3 victory over the A's.
LeMahieu had been 0-for-4 with three strikeouts when he stepped to the plate against Oakland’s Lou Trivino, slugging a ball over the right-field wall for his 24th homer of the season. The Yanks’ first walk-off homer of 2019 was just the Yanks’ sixth hit of the game, giving New York its first victory in five tries against the A’s.
“I was on deck, so I had a perfect view of it,” Aaron Judge said. “I threw my bat and helmet in the air and got ready for the celebration. He has been a great piece to this team, what he’s done day in and day out, when he’s feeling good, not feeling good—he always produces. And that’s what you look for in a baseball player and a teammate.”
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Yankees LeMehieu was named the first-team second baseman.
D.J. has been the Yankees’ best player since they signed him as a free agent away from the Rockies. He is also the best second baseman in baseball, even though people don’t talk about him that way nearly often enough. Just in terms of batting average, there isn’t a second baseman in the sport anywhere close to him. He is that good. Quietly. Even he jokes about what a lousy quote he is.
When he has been on the field, he has continued to show everybody why he is merely indispensable.
You know the kind of money the Yankees have thrown around, whether absorbing Stanton’s contract in a trade or signing Gerrit Cole, their ace, as a free agent. They once gave Jacoby Ellsbury $153 million for seven years. But it is LeMahieu, who got $24 million for two years when the Yankees signed him, who has been as important as any free agent they have signed lately.
“He is a baseball player,” Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, always says of his second baseman.
LeMahieu’s former manager with the Rockies had an even better description of DJ LeMahieu. “He’s a baller,” Walt Weiss said.
Gleyber Torres was terrific for the Yankees last season, a breakout season for him. But it was LeMahieu who was the MVP of a Yankees team that ended up winning 103 regular-season games. He hit .327 with 26 homers and 102 RBI and helped people remember, in case they’d forgotten, that he’d been a National League batting champion in 2016, when he was with the Rockies. He hit .348 that year. He is well north of that now. The 26 homers for the Yankees last season were a career best. He is a better player now [in 2020], at 32, than he has ever been, leading off for Aaron Boone and playing second base.
He is also about to become a free agent again if he chooses. He is going to make a lot more than $12 million per year. Not a lot of attention was paid when the Yankees did sign him, or that Jim Hendry, the special assistant to Cashman who’d drafted LeMahieu for the Cubs in 2009, talked about what a perfect fit LeMahieu was going to be with all the home run hitters the Yankees had.
Everybody pays attention to DJ LeMahieu now. The guy has been one of the quiet stars in the whole sport since he got to Yankee Stadium.
On September 15, 2020, D.J. even managed to hit a 48.7 mph pitch thrown by Blue Jays infielder Santiago Espinal, mopping up for the Blue Jays in the ninth, out of the park. It was the slowest pitch recorded in the pitch-tracking era that began in 2008.
“DJ is the freaking best hitter I've ever played with, and he continues to keep raking,” teammate Luke Voit said. (Lupica - mlb.com)
Nov 9, 2020: LeMahieu named BBWAA's NY Yankee Player of Year.
Nov 12, 2020: LeMahieu finished third in the AL MVP voting. José Abreu of the White Sox won and José Ramírez of the Indians finished second.
Spring Training 2021: “That first year on the Yankees team, DJ was a man of few words,” Gleyber Torres said. “Now he’s really open with me. I feel like he’s my older brother. I feel really confident right now playing with him. We have the best conversations. DJ is a really complete player. He just wants to win games.”
It was a tough shell to crack. LeMahieu guarded his words, both with teammates and the media, in 2019, part of the reason that catcher Gary Sánchez nicknamed him “The Machine.” While LeMahieu has grown more comfortable in his surroundings, he’ll never be the loudest conversationalist in the room. After LeMahieu conducted a tight-lipped Zoom interview in the spring of 2021, director of media relations Jason Zillo joked that they had six years to get LeMahieu ready to host a radio show, to which LeMahieu smirked. Torres may be one of the few exceptions. He referred to LeMahieu as his “older brother,” a role that LeMahieu does not seem to mind.
“He mentioned to me this spring that he wanted to pick my brain a little bit,” LeMahieu said. “Just kind of, ‘Let’s work together this spring more.’ And we got to know each other better and we’ve really worked a lot this spring. He’s working hard and he’s doing really good, so I’m excited to see him finding his legs in his routine.”
LeMahieu doesn’t mind his stoic reputation, but behind the scenes, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that LeMahieu “gets his point across a little more than people might think.” He observed that LeMahieu and Torres have been “absolutely joined at the hip” throughout this spring, including on the road. “They’ve pretty much played every single day together,” Boone said. “If there’s been a trip, they’ve both been on it together, and that’s by design. Gleyber’s driving that; from the start of camp, Gleyber said, ‘Put me with DJ at every turn,’ which I love.”
“When DJ and I are talking about baseball, it’s amazing,” Torres said. “During the game, every inning, every at-bat, every ground ball . . . I’m just asking what he sees and what he feels. That is the way I feel I can improve my defense and get better every day.” (Hoch - mlb.com - 3/22/2021)
A Major League star from Day 1 DJ was not. A player who worked hard year in and year out, and over time slowly elevated his game to the top tier of big leaguers, well, that’s a little more accurate.
It was the difficulty of climbing baseball’s proverbial ladder that LeMahieu believes helped him immensely. “A lot of hard work paid off,” he says. “But so did a lot of failure. I picked myself up after failing on a lot of occasions. I was a good player, but not a great player. I knew there was more in me, and I was always trying to improve.”
LeMahieu won Gold Glove Awards in 2017 and 2018, and he earned All-Star selection during the 2015 and 2017 seasons. That individual success was accompanied for the first time by a team accomplishment. After a long drought, the Rockies returned to the postseason in 2017 and 2018.
“As a team, we had some tough years,” he says. “But making the playoffs in my last two seasons there was an important accomplishment for that group, and going through that experience helped me improve. I was finally playing in games that had playoff implications every day in the regular season, and then in postseason games with all the pressure in the world. It’s hard not to grow as a player from that.” (Santasiere - Yankees Magazine - 4/23/2021)
DJ hit the free-agent market in November 2018. It appeared likely that the then-30-year-old’s resume, his reputation as a good teammate, and the many productive years presumably ahead of him would land him a long-term contract. But as unpredictable as the sport itself is, so, too, was the market for top-flight free agents leading into the 2019 season. As he had done so many times before, Yankees GM Brian Cashman seized the opportunity to bring in a player he believed would make a difference for his team, signing LeMahieu to a two-year contract.
LeMahieu’s arrival in New York came with little fanfare. The contract didn’t rival those of the other high-profile players in the sport or even on the team in terms of financial compensation. Of even greater significance, LeMahieu wasn’t even guaranteed a starting position. Instead, he was joining an infield already comprised of everyday players who had locked down their respective positions.
“I was just excited to be a Yankee,” LeMahieu says. “I was surprised that they had interest in me because they had such a young, up-and-coming and talented infield already. But I had watched the Yankees from afar before that, and I admired the group they had in New York. I didn’t exactly know how much I was going to play or where I was going to play, but I knew that I could help the Yankees in one way or another.”
A few months prior to LeMahieu’s arrival, Didi Gregorius underwent Tommy John surgery on this throwing arm. His return was projected for midway through the 2019 season. That development compelled Cashman to bring in Tulowitzki. Tulo's lifelong dream was to play for the Yankees, but his career had been ravaged by injuries in the two seasons before that.
Tulowitzki realized his dream of wearing the pinstripes, but it was short-lived. After just five games and one home run, the former All-Star would again fall victim to injury, this time effectively forcing his retirement at 34 years old. It was LeMahieu, a reserve on Opening Day, who would fill the void. Taking the field at first base, second base and third base while Gleyber Torres handled shortstop, all LeMahieu did during that time was hit at a .323 clip and give the team solid defense at all three positions.
“People were surprised that DJ came to the Yankees and suddenly became one of the best players in the American League,” Tulowitzki said after his retirement. “But I don’t know why anyone would have expected anything different. He was a great player in Colorado, and he was only getting better when he left. For the Yankees, it was an incredible signing. What really is the surprising thing is that there wasn’t more competition from other teams for DJ. The rest of baseball missed out on an all-time great player.”
LeMahieu finished the 2019 season with a team-leading .327 average. Additionally, he set new career highs with 197 hits, 26 home runs, 102 RBI and 33 doubles. A below-the-radar free-agent acquisition a few months prior, LeMahieu finished fourth in the AL MVP voting.
“It all came together for me with the Yankees in terms of consistency and raising the level of my game,” he says. “I just feel like getting over the humps I had dealt with prior to that made me stronger, and it was just my time when I got to New York.”
LeMahieu’s time stretched into the postseason. His game-tying home run in Game 6 of the ALCS pushed his batting average to .346 in that series. But it ended up being his final at-bat of 2019. (Santasiere - Yankees Magazine - 4/23/2021)
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball was delayed in 2020 until late July to play a 60-game regular season.
Before LeMahieu restarted his preparation for the 2020 season, he tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to remain at home in Michigan for two weeks until he cleared various health protocols, including testing negative multiple times. But for as much as had changed in baseball and throughout the world in 2020, LeMahieu’s dogged determination remained exactly the same.
“I was behind when I finally joined the team,” he says. “But that wasn’t an excuse. We were all dealing with adversity and uncertainty. I knew I had to work harder when I got back, and that was no different from how I felt in so many other seasons.”
In 50 games and 195 at-bats, LeMahieu once again led the Majors in batting, this time with a .364 average. He also led the AL with a .421 on-base percentage and a 1.011 OPS. LeMahieu became the first player in the modern era to win a batting title in both leagues, and he became the first Yankee to lead the Majors in batting average since Mickey Mantle. Prior to Mantle pacing the big leagues with a .353 average during his Triple Crown season of 1956, only Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig accomplished the feat while wearing pinstripes, both in the 1930s.
“It’s nice to be associated with those players, but you can’t compare me to them,” says LeMahieu, who also won his second straight Silver Slugger Award and finished third in the AL MVP voting. “Those guys were legends; they’re immortals. I’m certainly not any of those things. I had a good year. I’m glad we got to play as many games as we did. It was a unique season. All routines that we had during our careers disappeared, just because of all that we had to do just to play games. You have to be proud of getting through those circumstances and playing well, but I’ll leave it at that.” (Santasiere - Yankees Magazine - 4/23/2021)
May 25-26, 2021: DJ was on the paternity list. Hs wife, Jordan, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
June 2009: LeMahieu signed with the Cubs, via scout Steve Riha, after the team chose him in the second round, out of LSU. D.J. received a bonus of $508,000.
December 8, 2011: The Rockies sent Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to the Cubs, acquiring LeMahieu and OF Tyler Colvin.
Jan 12, 2018: D.J. and the Rockies avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal at $8.5 million.
Oct 29, 2018: DJ chose free agency.
Jan, 11, 2019: LeMahieu agreed to a two-year, $24 million contract with the Yankees.
Nov 10, 2020: D.J. elected free agency. He rejected the qualifying offer of $18.9 million.
- Jan 2021: DJ signed with the Yankees as a free agent, agreeing to a six-year, $90 million contract. LeMahieu will earn $15 million annually through 2026.
|DOB:||7/13/1988||Agent:||Excel Sports Mgmt.|
|Birth City:||Visalia, CA|
|Draft:||Cubs #2 - 2009 - Out of LSU|
LeMahieu has a nice righthanded uppercut swing that launches balls deep into the night. He is a pure hitter—maybe the purest hitter in the Cubs' organization (in 2010 and 2011). In the minors, he hit for great batting averages.
He consistently makes contact on the sweet spot, using an inside-out swing to line the ball to the opposite field. He is a big guy who may develop home run power later, but right now he is a solid line drive hitter.
Overall, he is a patient righthanded hitter with an inside-out/opposite field swing.
His swing can get a little long, at times. And he doesn't walk enough, nor have much power, preferring to stay inside pitches and serve them to the opposite field. He rarely turns on a pitch or drives it for power. But he will hit a lot of doubles once he learns to recognize which pitches he can drive.
In 2012, during his first callup to the Majors, LeMahieu went from a guy behind on pitches to one who might be able to add pull power to his inside-out stroke.
LeMahieu remembers showing up at the ballpark in Daytona early one afternoon in the middle of the 2010 season. Richie Zisk, the manager of the Cubs' High A affiliate in the Florida State League was in the batting cage in an otherwise empty ballpark, taking swings against the pitching machine.
"He was hitting line drives in every direction," said LeMahieu, "and he would scream, 'It's not that hard. Hitting's not that hard.'"
It was, said Zisk, a message he wanted to get across to the young prospects he was in charge of for the summer. "I wanted to drive home the point," Zisk said. "It was about talent and dedication. It was not a matter of playing ability. It was about mental toughness."
LeMahieu got the message, loud and clear. Struggling to survive in the first half of that season—his first full season in pro ball—he finished so strong that he wound up with a .314 average and 73 RBIs. He has handled the challenges ever since, including 2014 when he became the tallest full-fledged second baseman in big league history, winning a Gold Glove. And in 2015, when he was selected to the NL All-Star team.
LeMahieu tipped his hat to Zisk. "That's kind of him to say, but the young man has a lot of talent," said Zisk. "He got to the big leagues because he earned it, and he is an All-Star because he earned it. He made the commitment."
Given the opportunity he took advantage of it, and this year he has taken a firm grip on the position with his continued development as a hitter. And for this offensive emergence his first thanks goes to Zisk.
"It was a pivotal point in my career," said LeMahieu. "It was my first full season in pro ball. I was really bad that first half. He never stopped working with me."
Zisk said it was a matter of expanding LeMahieu's offensive vision. LeMahieu had an excellent approach to driving the ball the other way. Zisk felt it was important to make LeMahieu aware of the inner part of the plate.
"This wasn't a one-day or one-week thing," Zisk said. "It's something we worked on and worked on. It was a matter of him becoming aware of the inner half of the plate and times when he had to make the adjustment."
LeMahieu made that adjustment. (Tracy Ringolsby - MLB.com - 2015)
In 2016, D.J. won the National League batting title. LeMahieu finished with a .348 batting average—one point ahead of the Nationals' Daniel Murphy. It was the 10th batting title for the Rockies.
GOOD HIT AND RUN GUY
In 2017, LeMahieu was rated as second-best Hit-and-Run Artist in the NL, behind only Martin Prado in the annual Baseball America Best Tools issue.
In the 2018 Baseball America Best Tools Survey (of managers, scouts and executives), D.J. was rated as the Best Hit-and-Run Artist in the National League.
Jan 16, 2019: LeMahieu, excited to be a Yankee, is a career .298/.350/.406 hitter, but his average and on-base percentage dropped in each of the past two seasons. LeMahieu batted .276/.321/.428 in 2018, with a career-high 15 home runs and 62 RBIs in 128 games.
LeMahieu has been more productive within the confines of Colorado's Coors Field, owning an .834 career OPS at home, compared to a .673 mark on the road. Last season 2018, LeMahieu had a .793 OPS in Denver and a .698 OPS everywhere else, though the Yankees believe that playing home games in the Bronx could help LeMahieu approach his Mile High numbers.
"I played one series there in 2016," LeMahieu said. "I just remember, the first game, pulling up to Yankee Stadium and it's like, 'Holy cow, it's Yankee Stadium. We're playing here today.' Now to do it every home game, that's pretty special and pretty exciting."
LeMahieu's ability to make hard contact and drive the ball up the middle and to the opposite field factored into the Yanks' thinking. According to Statcast, LeMahieu has put 645 balls in play with exit velocities of 95 mph or greater over the past three seasons, ranking fourth in the Majors behind Machado, Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich.
In addition, among 104 hitters with at least 2,000 plate appearances over the last four seasons (2015-18), the Visalia, Calif., native has the fifth-lowest swing-and-miss rate (5 percent), the sixth-highest contact rate (88.2 percent) and the eighth-highest line-drive rate (24.6 percent).
"I pride myself on having good at-bats, tough at-bats, being a tough out," LeMahieu said. "I'm always trying to get better. I think if I try to hit like Stanton or Judge, I'm probably going to find myself not being a very good hitter. I just try to stick to my strengths." (B Hoch - MLB.com - Jan 16, 2019:
June 25, 2019: The MLB home run milestone came on the sixth pitch to leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu, marking the Yanks' 28th consecutive game with at least one long ball.
The confident conversation took place in the clubhouse hours before first pitch, with nine names speculated to be attached to a piece of history. Everyone wanted to slug the home run that gave the Yankees full custody of a Major League record. Aaron Judge relayed those words in the wake of a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays, saying that Aaron Hicks had wondered if the moment would wait for him. Instead, the milestone came on the sixth pitch to leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu.
"We were all kind of talking about it before the game, who's going to do it," Judge said. "Hicksy was like, 'It'll happen in the third inning when I get up there.' I was like, 'I don't think it's going to last that long. It might happen in the first, with DJ and me going up there.' DJ stole the show. I'm happy for him. No better person I'd want breaking that record."
- July 1, 2019: The AL Player of the Week went to Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu, is a first-time winner. The 30-year-old shined on an international stage as the Yankees swept the historic London Series against the Red Sox. He went 7-for-12 with three doubles and seven RBIs in the two-game set.
The veteran infielder tallied multiple knocks in all five games the Yankees played, slashing .625/.654/1.083 with two homers, a triple, three doubles and 10 RBI in that span.
Oct. 18, 2019: LeMahieu hit his 7th leadoff home run, which is the most in Yankees postseason history.
- In 2019, DJ won his first Silver Slugger Award. He already had a batting title on his resume heading into his first season in Yankees pinstripes, but not a Silver Slugger. LeMahieu has rectified that situation by turning in a career year at the plate.
He slashed .327/.375/.518 (136 OPS+) with a career-best 26 homers and 102 RBIs to help New York reach the ALCS, where he hit a ninth-inning, game-tying home run to keep the Yankees alive in Game 6 against the Astros.
- April 2020: With his throwback approach and team-first attitude, LeMahieu could have earned a place on any of the Yankees’ World Series clubs. The 2016 NL batting champion (.348) with the Rockies, LeMahieu quickly won over Yankees fans by turning in a special season from wire to wire, setting career highs in runs (109), hits (197), home runs (26), slugging percentage (.518), extra-base hits (61) and multihit games (61).
Pitchers hated facing a man that teammate Gary Sánchez nicknamed “The Machine,” as LeMahieu led the Majors with a .389 average with runners in scoring position. LeMahieu’s .327 overall average was the highest by a Yankee since Derek Jeter’s .334 in 2009. –Bryan Hoch
Sept. 27, 2020: LeMahieu finished the season with a .364 batting average and becoming the first player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to lead both the American League and National League in hitting. LeMahieu is the first Yankee to pace the Majors in hitting since Mickey Mantle in 1956, and the first Yankee to lead the AL since Bernie Williams in 1998.
Nov 5, 2020: LeMahieu continues to establish himself as one of the game's top hitters with his second consecutive Silver Slugger. He took home his second batting title (also 2016) after leading all players with a .364 average, while also pacing the AL with a .421 OBP and 1.011 OPS.
Nov 9, 2020: For the second consecutive season, the standout infielder is being recognized as the “New York Player of the Year.”
LeMahieu received the honor from the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which announced the voting results of its annual awards. The award carries the names of longtime sportswriters Sid Mercer and Dick Young.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu paced the Majors with a .364 batting average (71-for-195), marking his second career batting title. He led the American League in on-base percentage (.421), OPS (1.011), OPS+ (177), wRC+ (177) and wOBA (.429), ranking fifth in the AL with a 2.5 fWAR.
Dec 2020: For a second straight season, LeMahieu was tabbed as the All-MLB First Team second baseman, completing a terrific season in which he won the AL batting title.
- As of the start of the 2022 season, LeMahieu had a career Major League batting average of .300 with 1,454 hits, 95 homers and 535 RBI in 4,839 at-bats.
D.J. has soft hands and a strong arm. He has the solid attributes to do well at second base. He has worked so hard that he became a Gold Glove caliber second baseman. "He's not the flashiest player at his position, but he makes the plays," Rockies manager Bud Black said in 2017. "He covers a lot of ground and he positions himself well. He's got good hands and is smooth on his feet. He will make the routine play, turn the double play and, like most great defensive players, he'll make the spectacular play."
LeMahieu was a bit slow and methodical at shortstop. He has a big frame and has trouble turning the double play from short. But he does a great job at second base.
Many scouts saw D.J. as a utility guy who plays average defense. But by 2013, he was impressive around the second base bag and a solid regular in the Rockies lineup.
On August 28, 2012, Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu wrote his name in the history books. His 12 assists tied a Major League record for assists by a second baseman. He was the 10th second baseman to do so, the first since Seattle’s Harold Reynolds on Aug. 27, 1986.
“I had no clue, I just knew that I had a lot of action,” LeMahieu said. “I was shocked, but it was pretty cool. I felt like I didn’t make any tough plays, so my pitchers made it easy.”
LeMahieu's defensive positioning has grown steadily, especially starting in 2013. And after the season, Wilson named D.J. as the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year for the Rockies. LeMahieu posted a .993 fielding percentage in 442 chances.
Formed in 2012, the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award winners are determined by using a formula that balances scouting information, sabermetric analysis, and basic fielding statistics.
LeMahieu’s strengths are his outstanding defensive ability and his versatility. Early in his big league career he had played every infield position.
In 2014, LeMahieu earned his first Gold Glove award.
In 2017, LeMahieu won his second Gold Glove.
In 2018, LeMahieu earned his third Gold Glove. With a career-high 18 defensive runs saved on the year, he was second in the Majors among second basemen to only Kolten Wong of the Cardinals.
He has put to rest the attitude so many had that at 6-foot-4, he was too tall to play second base. "That's what I always felt was my biggest challenge, getting the opportunity," LeMahieu said. "I always felt I could play second base if they would let me."
The only other player to stand 6-foot-4 and play even 100 games at second base was George "High Pockets" Kelly, a Hall of Fame first baseman with the New York Giants who started at second one year when Frankie Frisch was injured. Dick "Turkey" Hall, who stood 6-foot-6, was originally an outfielder with the Pirates, but played seven games at second base, before eventually becoming a pitcher.
"He has a feel for the position," said Rockies shortstop Tulowitzki, an All-Star himself. "It may not be an orthodox approach, but he has a feel for the game. I've heard people say he 'Makes all the plays.' I'd say, no, he makes more than all the plays." (T Ringolsby - MLB.com - July 15, 2015)
In 2017, LeMahieu won the Fielding Bible Award for second base.
In 2018, LeMahieu won his third Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Jan 16, 2019: Having experienced the excitement of playoff baseball in his past two seasons, DJ LeMahieu said that he placed the Yankees at the top of his list early in free agency, eager to leap toward the Bronx despite no clear indication of which position he will play to begin the season.
"I was told to bring a lot of gloves, if that's any indication," LeMahieu said. "I think I can add a lot. Didi [Gregorius] is coming back, I don't know when, but I see they've got a lot of talented infielders there. We'll see how it unfolds, but I'll be ready to go wherever I'm needed."
The Yankees envision that manager Aaron Boone could deploy the 30-year-old as a super-utility player at second base, third base and shortstop, spelling Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki, respectively.
A two-time NL All-Star, LeMahieu played second base exclusively over his last four seasons with the Rockies, winning Gold Glove Awards in 2017 and 2018. He also won a Gold Glove at the position in 2014, though he made seven appearances at third base and one each at first base and shortstop that year. LeMahieu played third base and shortstop in the Minors, and he said that he could also be used in an emergency at first. (B Hoch - MLB.com - Jan 16, 2019)
As of the 2019 season, D.J. is the active career leader among 2nd basemen in range factor per 9 innings played, and even though his metrics at the other positions (3rd base and 1st base) rate out more average that superlative, he is an asset all over the field. "I enjoy that, LeMahieu said. "I enjoy moving around. Credit to the Yankees front office, also, for being prepared for something like that. And for having confidence in me to be able to do that after not having done it for a long time. But yeah, I enjoy it. I like playing all the positions."
- Since coming to the Yankees in 2019, LeMahieu has played first base, second base, and third base.
DJ's infield presence was a terrific stabilizing force for the Yankees in 2019, no matter where manager Aaron Boone needed to place him, and that sure-handed versatility is a key reason LeMahieu was viewed as the club's most valuable player.
A three-time National League Gold Glove Award winner (2014, ’17’, ’18) at second base with the Rockies, LeMahieu accepted the challenge of playing in New York despite not being assured a set position. He excelled at second base, third base and first base, committing just eight errors in 1,241 2/3 innings in the field. (Hoch - mlb.com - 5/22/2020)
- D.J. has only average speed. But he manages to steal his share of bases.
LeMahieu has two qualities, quiet and sneaky, that help him steal bases.
"I'm not one of those base-stealers who are going to steal when they know I'm going," LeMahieu said. "But if I can pick my certain times here and there, I can be successful at that." (3/20/14)
Summer 2008: D.J. came down with a case of mononucleosis while playing for Harwich in the Cape Cod League.
April 28-May 8, 2018: D.J. was on the DL with right hamstring strain.
May 14-June 1, 2018: D.J was on the DL with left thumb sprain.
July 21-Aug 2, 2018: DJ was on the DL with oblique injury.
July 27, 2019: LeMahieu was diagnosed with a low-level groin strain, revealed by an MRI prior to the Yankees' 9-5 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. LeMahieu said that he sustained the injury during his second at-bat in the series opener.
- July 7-23, 2020: DJ was on the IL.
Aug 15, 2020: LeMahieu sustained a sprained left thumb while swinging at a fourth-inning pitch from Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi. LeMahieu was sent for imaging tests.
“He was pretty sore, so we'll just have to see what comes back from that,” Boone said.
Aug 16-29, 2020: DJ was on the IL with left thumb sprain.
July 31, 2021: DJ was out of the lineup because of a right triceps strain, according to manager Aaron Boone. LeMahieu experienced soreness during the July 29 loss to the Rays. He is day-to-day.
Sept 25, 2021: LeMahieu was out of the lineup at Boston with soreness in his hip and groin area. Manager Aaron Boone said that LeMahieu has been “grinding through” a lingering issue, which was “holding him back a little bit” during the Yankees’ 8-3 win on Sept. 24.
Oct 2, 2021: Aaron Boone said the infielder was diagnosed with a sports hernia that will require surgery after the season. He received an injection on Oct 1, DJ is considered day-to-day.
Oct 3-11, 2021: DJ was on the IL.
Oct. 2021: Lemahieu underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia and was expected to be ready for spring training.
Aug 16, 2022: LeMahieu was out of the lineup for a third straight game with soreness in his big right toe, an issue he said required a cortisone injection during the All-Star break. Manager Aaron Boone said LeMahieu was waiting on a second opinion.
- Sept 5-30, 2022: DJ was on the IL with right second toe inflammation.