New York Yankees: DJ LeMahieu is still MLB’s most undervalued star

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees hits a home run to right field in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: DJ LeMahieu #26 of the New York Yankees hits a home run to right field in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on September 01, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

3. He was more valuable to the New York Yankees success than many think

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees already had one of the most potent lineups before LeMahieu’s emergence. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will always grab the headlines for their gargantuan power, but no player had a bigger impact on the Yankees’ success than DJ LeMahieu.

In 2019 and 2020, he finished fourth and third in the AL MVP voting, respectively. While he came up short of the award, its possible he was the most important piece to any true contender. In a homerun-dependent lineup that strikes out at a very high rate, his consistent and clutch bat has proven vital.

According to Fangraphs, LeMahieu has a 7.8 WAR during his Yankee tenure which ranks 12th in the majors. Based on WAR alone, his current market value is appropriate. However, a perhaps more compelling case is how the Yankees offense has struggled mightily without his presence in the lineup. When he went down with a sprained thumb on August 16th, the Yankees stumbled through their worst stretch of the year. He only missed eight games, but the Yankees lost seven of them. During that stretch, they hit an atrocious .195 and produced a league-low 25 runs. They lost three key games to Tampa Bay Rays, surrendering the AL East lead which they never got back.

When LeMahieu returned to the lineup on August 29th, the Yankees got back on track. From that point on, they had the league’s fifth-best rated offense in terms of run production. DJ LeMahieu’s personal success was contagious to Yankees hitters, and the numbers show he was even more valuable than his WAR suggests.