The American League MVP finalists were announced on Monday night, and one certain New York Yankees player was mistakenly not among them.
The New York Yankees were at times the most injured team in all of baseball. Some of the many names that spent time on the shelf were Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks. Heck, in the infield alone, the Yankees lost Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius and Luke Voit. Despite the injury bug destroying the Yankees, they still won the AL East. That was solely because of the consistency of DJ LeMahieu.
That is why it is so maddening that the Yankees infielding specialist was snubbed when the MVP finalists were announced. Instead of LeMahieu, the Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman, Oakland Athletics’ Marcus Semien and Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout were given the nod.
Let’s take a look at why LeMahieu very much deserved to be in the running. He was second in the American League with a .327 average. He was the best player in baseball with runners in scoring position, hitting at an insane .389 clip. Semien was the only other finalist to even make the top 20 on that list (he ranked 17th). When it comes to most valuable, you have to look at the players who perform when it matters most.
LeMahieu played first base, second base and third base. When he signed with the Yankees, he thought he would be part of a rotation. When Andujar went down early in the season, it became clear the Yankees would need to lean on him even more. That’s what an MVP does: He steps up when the team needs him most. Whoever went down in the infield, LeMahieu would immediately jump into that spot.
LeMahieu led the Yankees in batting average, games played, runs scored, rbis, total bases, hits … we could go on, but you get the point. He led the Yankees in every important category and the team was the second seed in the league.
Look at some of the teams the Yankees put out there. Gio Urshela, Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, Austin Romine, Tyler Wade and Mike Ford all had serious playing time this season.
Again, this all comes down to the Yankees’ vast injuries this season. Thirty players ended up on the IL at one point or another. Yet despite LeMahieu and the Yankees overcoming this type of adversity, he doesn’t get respect when it comes to awards season.
It would’ve been fine if LeMahieu didn’t win the award outright, although he was deserving. However, it is insane to think he wasn’t one of the three most valuable players in the league. If he signed with, say, the Red Sox instead of the Yankees, then that would be a 12-win swing. (LeMahieu had a 6.0 WAR this season). That in of itself would have made the AL East a dog fight. That sounds pretty valuable.
There weren’t any clear names this year, so the snub might be understandable, but this was right in their face. It’s the most popular franchise in sports, that made a miraculous run to the playoffs with just about nobody except him and Gleyber Torres, and that team dominated the division all season long. It just seems very disappointing that this snub happened in the first place.