If you were to gaze at New York’s projected Opening Day lineup for its upcoming series against the Boston Red Sox, everything seems to fit like a puzzle. With new additions and familiar faces, it’s sure to be an exciting lineup for fans to watch in 2022.
Then, you take a look at New York’s second base situation and interest piques for some controversy.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was faced with a choice this offseason. Does he start 25-year-old Gleyber Torres or veteran infielder D.J. Lemahieu?
Keep in mind, Torres could have had one of the most challenging years of his young career so far. He’s fresh off a disappointing 2021 season that saw him hit for the worst numbers of his career and fail to be the solution for the Yankees at shortstop. The team saw him go from a top 20 candidate in A.L MVP voting and his second all-star appearance in 2019 to failing to reach the expectations of many in 2021. He’s got all eyes on him to perform in 2022 and with some encouraging performances in Spring Training thus far for the Yankees, it looks like Torres may be up for the task.
Torres is competing with the same player who’s not only been a top hitter for New York throughout his time in the Bronx, but also one of the most feared hitters in the American League, other than a down year in 2021. That’s David John Lemeheiu, or how he’s known by many, D.J.
LeMahieu has always been a reliable utility player throughout his time in baseball, but with Torres having a down year in 2021, he’s been a major candidate to start at second base when baseball began once again after the MLB lockout agreement. After all, that versatility, combined with three strong seasons at the plate that has seen LeMahieu grab two top three finishes in A.L MVP voting and an average oWAR of 3.3, has been a big part of what makes the veteran so special.
However, LeMahieu values team success over all. The veteran infielder confirmed that he’s looking to embody his utility role with New York rather than look to compete with Torres, especially with his ability to play multiple positions.
“I’m probably most comfortable at second, but the way our team is constructed right now, this kind of takes a backseat,” said LeMahieu.
As Brian Hoch of MLB.com perfectly put it, he’s not your typical bench player. If there’s any player who is going to get his share of at-bats in this Yankees lineup, it’s LeMahieu. With the ability to play so many positions and provide leverage for a Yankees team that dealt with plenty of injuries in 2022, the hitter’s ability to embrace his versatility and be there for a Yankees team that truly needs him, it becomes more of a strength rather than a problem.
While some top players would be angry with this situation, LeMahieu is different. His response to the situation is not only the making of a true teammate, but also a leader in the clubhouse.
It leads back to Torres and his own pressure of playing in New York’s current lineup. Torres is just 25 years old so one bad season is nowhere near the end of the world for the two-time All Star. However, New York certainly needs more out of him, especially when he’s shown that he is a major component of the Yankees when playing at his best and continues to be especially important for the future of the team.
It then becomes an excellent situation for New York to be in. At the very worst, LeMahieu can slot right in at second base for the Bronx Bombers and continue to be a solid option for the Yankees if Torres were to play below expectations. On the other hand, the best option would be that Torres returns to form and stays at second base, continuing to provide the production that the Yankees expect of him every season.
It’s a brilliant test for Torres that is sure to be awesome to watch play out during what looks to be an impeccable 2022 MLB season.