BALTIMORE — The Machine learns. DJ LeMahieu, coming off of what was one of the worst years of his career in 2021, is still improving, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Friday. The 10-year veteran who is the only player in the modern era to win the batting title in both leagues continues to evolve this season.
“I think it’s just sort of an alignment now. Yeah, I mean, I look, he’s almost a .390 at base now, that’s just outstanding. I just think he’s gotten so good at situational batting,” Boone said before the series opener against the Orioles at Camden Yards. “Depending on where we are in the game, the score, the guy on the mound, obviously (Aaron) Judge and the heart of the order coming, how well he sails and that bat is really fun to watch. But I think it’s also that he’s probably been rewarded a bit more for what I feel is a really consistent approach and constant contact throughout the year.
“I feel like there was a long stretch where he was getting his hits and getting a few on base, but it was to line up right or right in the center, just miss a shot through the middle,” Boone continued. “Where he’s starting to get results now. And I think the clip he’s getting on base now is impressive.
LeMahieu came into Friday night’s game having reached base in each of his last 23 starts and is batting .348/.496/.472 with two doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 25 walks at during this period. He’s hit base multiple times in each of his last nine starts, the longest streak by a Yankee since doing so 10 times in 2019. Since June 21, he’s led the majors on the march (26 ) and ranks second in on-base percentage. (.496) in this range. His 50 walks this season are third in the American League and tied for sixth in the majors. His 13.7% walk rate is the highest of his career and a huge jump from the 8.3% he walked in 2020 when he won the AL batting title.
“I think he’s just a smart player, a great hitter. So I would say aptitude, experience, then knowledge acquired and how to apply it. And I just think you’re looking at his drummers in a particular situation. The lack of fear of getting both strikes, the lack of fear of going deep into a count, knowing where he is in the lineup, who is hitting behind him. It’s just, it’s fun to watch him do that,” Boone said. So I would just think obviously, it’s just that he’s a very talented hitter and his swing is conducive to being a good hitter. I also think that the experience he has gained over all these years applies very well.
LeMahieu hit .268/.349/.362 with an .802 OPS last season as he tried to play through a sports clubbing. He was stopped at the end of the season and had surgery this offseason.
DOUBLE DUTY DAY OFF
Aaron Hicks walked into the Camden Yards clubhouse on Friday and admitted he was a bit tired. The outfielder played both ends of the double-header in Houston on Thursday, so Aaron Boone got him airborne and out of the lineup Friday night.
So did Gleyber Torres, who recorded his 500th career hit in the ninth inning of Game 2 on Thursday. Torres played both ends of the doubleheader, so he was off to Game 1 of the series in Baltimore.
Torres’ ninth-inning single made him the fourth fastest Yankee to 500 hits in the last 36 years, behind Derek Jeter (24 years and 24 days), Robinson Cano (24 years, 338 days) and Melky Cabrera (25 years and 26 days).
The Yankees fired JP Sears to Scranton on Thursday night. The southpaw pitched three innings in the doubleheader and was the 27th designated man. That means the Yankees didn’t have to use an option with him this time around. … Ron Marinaccio was making his second minor-league rehab start Friday night and Boone said it’s possible he’ll be back here Sunday. … Wide receiver Ben Rortvedt, who the Yankees acquired in trade with the Twins who brought in Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson, had his rehab assignment moved from Calss-A Hudson Valley to Triple-A Scranton on Friday.