In a bid to restore the Yankees‘ fortunes in the 2023 season, the spotlight now falls on two key players, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu.
The duo, who proved to be liabilities during the first half of the season, are now the team’s best bet for a solid second half. Their performance on the field on Friday night demonstrated they still have the potential to shine, both delivering two hits.
Stanton, known as one of the game’s finest sluggers, is vital for the Yankees, especially in the absence of the injured Aaron Judge. On the other hand, LeMahieu, known for his consistent contact-hitting abilities, has seen an unexpected dip in his performance.
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Bouncing Back into Action: The Yankees need Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton’s performance against the Rockies on Friday night showed promising signs of a return to form. Delivering two hits, one of which was a spectacular 455-foot homer to left-center field, he brought in the first two runs of the game.
For the current season, Stanton is hitting .211 with a .281 OBP, and his contribution includes 10 homers and 25 RBIs. His 98 wRC+ score shows he’s just a mere 2% below the average MLB player, but he’s working his way up with his formidable slugging metrics — 51.4% hard-hit rate, 15.3% barrel rate, and an average exit velocity of 93.4.
Despite his defensive limitations, Stanton’s value as a hitter remains undeniable. What he needs to rediscover is consistency. His performance over the past year has been undermined by recurring injuries, but there are positive signs of a recovery — Stanton is starting to connect with the ball more effectively, and the results are expected to follow.
On the Upswing: DJ LeMahieu
DJ LeMahieu’s absence from the last postseason has been felt acutely by the Yankees. He hit .261 with a .357 OBP last season, demonstrating that he still had plenty of fuel to burn.
This season, however, has seen a significant drop in his performance. His current stats stand at .224 with a .288 OBP, seven homers, and 27 RBIs. His strikeout rate is at an all-time high of 23%, with a 7.8% walk rate. But Friday night’s game against Colorado saw DJ achieve two singles against his old team, showing he still possesses the ability to get on base and connect well with the ball.
Whether LeMahieu’s performance this season is hampered by lingering discomfort from last year’s toe injury is unknown. He maintains that he’s in full health, and it seems that his primary struggle is mental, something that Sean Casey hopes to help him overcome.
LeMahieu’s defensive skills remain intact, and he continues to be a valuable utility player with the ability to cover multiple infield positions. He has clocked 437.1 innings at third base this year, with two defensive runs saved and two outs above average.
It’s clear that when LeMahieu is in top form, the Yankees are a stronger team. The challenge now lies in him finding the consistency they need to boost their postseason prospects in the coming weeks.