DJ LeMahieu: History Behind his Batting Title Victories

New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu just made MLB batting title history. By clinching the American League batting crown Sunday, he became the first player in the modern era to win a batting title in both leagues. Impressively, Lemahieu led the entire MLB in batting average during both seasons.

Prior to his time in NY, he spent the previous seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies. It was there that LeMahieu first made a name for himself around the league- becoming a 1X Batting Champ, 2X All-Star, and 3X Gold Glove Award winner.

Unfortunately, his first go-around with free agency didn’t go as he had anticipated. For reasons unknown, DJ didn’t garner the type of attention usually given to a player with his resumé.

The Yankees swooped in and capitalized on the situation- inking Lemahieu to a two-year contract worth $24 million.

DJ quickly established himself as the Yankees leadoff man and set career bests in a multitude of offensive categories. He was named a starter on the 2019 All-Star team, and also won his first career Silver Slugger Award.

Lemahieu finished the 2019 season 2nd in the batting race and 4th in the American League MVP voting- after posting a slash line of .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs and 102 RBI.

He capped off an illustrious first season in the pinstripes by continuing to lead the team throughout the postseason. Lemahieu had a .325 batting average with three home runs and seven runs batted in during the team’s nine games.

The History Behind It:

DJ LeMahieu won his first batting crown with the Colorado Rockies back in 2016.  That year he posted a slash line of .346/.416/.495 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI. In 2020, LeMahieu edged out Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson (.322) in the AL batting race.

He finished the season by posting a slash line of .364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Ironically enough, it was Anderson (.335) who eclipsed DJ (.327) for the 2019 batting title.

This marked only the seventh time in MLB history where the same two players finished first and second (in either order) in the batting race during back-to-back seasons- and the first since Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle did it way back in 1956-57.

Going back further in history, in 1899, Philadelphia Phillies “Big” Ed Delahanty won the NL batting crown with an average of .410. He followed that up in 1902 by hitting an AL-best .376 for the Washington Senators. Cleveland Bronchos infielder, Nap Lajoie, actually bested “Big” Ed .378 to .376 that season. It was later deemed that Lajoie didn’t have enough at-bats, and the title was awarded to Delahanty.

Since the modern era didn’t officially begin until 1900, this leaves LeMahieu as the only player to currently accomplish this feat, winning a batting title both in the American League and National League.

 

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