NEW YORK -- When DJ LeMahieu signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season, there was no concern about the bright lights serving as a distraction. From Day 1, the sweet-swinging infielder showed up with his focus set upon collecting hits, snatching grounders and winning ballgames.
The Bombers’ most indispensable performer in each of the past two seasons, LeMahieu finished third in voting for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, as announced Thursday on MLB Network. Votes were cast by eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“I enjoy it,” LeMahieu said. “Every game feels like a big game. You feel like you’re in the spotlight. You’re not getting away with anything in New York. I just feel like it’s a city that loves baseball, and baseball is my passion. I feel like it’s a good fit.”
Abreu received 21 of 30 possible first-place votes while collecting 374 points, with Ramírez collecting eight first-place votes en route to a tally of 303 points. LeMahieu received one first-place vote, five second-place votes and 15 third-place votes for 230 points.
One of four players to appear on every ballot, LeMahieu had three fourth-place votes, two fifth-place votes, three sixth-place votes and one eighth-place vote. All votes were cast prior to the postseason.
Nicknamed “The Machine” by teammate Gary Sánchez in recognition of his cool demeanor and efficiency, LeMahieu paced the Majors with a .364 batting average (71-for-195), marking his second career batting title.
Despite missing most of Summer Camp after a positive COVID-19 test, LeMahieu became the first player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win batting titles in both the American League and the National League.
“Kind of a crazy start, but I’m glad we had the whole season,” LeMahieu said. “Glad we got through it. I thought the playoffs were awesome. It was a special year.”
“If you add up the last two years in Major League Baseball, he's on the short list of short lists for being the best player in the sport -- he's been that impactful,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “In the biggest moments, he always seems to deliver. He's just been a great player for us.”
A three-time Gold Glove Award winner at second base, LeMahieu did not accept a qualifying offer from the Yankees this week, which would have locked him into a one-year contract valued at $18.9 million.
In his remarks on MLB Network, LeMahieu sounded as though he remains open to a New York return, expressing belief that the atmosphere has pushed his game to the next level.
“Those dog days in August, those day games, you get a packed house,” LeMahieu said. “Everybody is on board, everybody wants to win -- fans, team, everybody. I think it has that focus, and it’s a lot of fun.”