For Yankees fans, it's easy to get lost in a lineup that features heavy hitters like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez. Even Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have created a buzz in their rookie seasons. And we can't forget the first base battle between Luke Voit and Greg Bird.
But, to Tino Martinez, all of these Yankees mentioned are not the catalyst of this loaded roster in 2019. It's a fresh face in the clubhouse, but one Martinez knows fans will come to love rather quickly.
"I would say the guy that was not talked about at Spring Training was DJ LeMahieu," Martinez told SNY at Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall, which was transformed into the "Judge's Chambers" on Wednesday in return of the Pepsi Zero Sugar "Judge for Yourself" campaign. "He won the batting title a couple years ago (2016), hit .348. He can play second, third and first all very well and, again, he's a great hitter. He's going to hit .300, at least 20 home runs. Very quiet guy, so you don't talk about him much but I think he's going to have the biggest impact on the team as well."
LeMahieu already made an immediate impact in his Yankees debut on Saturday despite the Yankees taking a 5-3 loss. Hitting out of the nine hole, the 30-year-old went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in his first at-bat, and he laced a double in the bottom of the ninth after his former Rockies teammate Troy Tulowitzki roped his first homer of the year to right field.
It wasn't just LeMahieu's consistent-contact bat that intrigued the Yankees to give him a two-year, $24 million deal this offseason. His defensive versatility played a major role in bringing LeMahieu on board as well. He played third base yesterday, but LeMahieu will get the start at second base -- a position he owns three Gold Gloves at -- on Sunday as Torres shifts to shortstop. He can also plays shortstop, and at 6-foot-4, he can fill in at first base, too.
Seeing him in action at Spring Training, many were surprised to see what LeMahieu brought to the table, including Paul O'Neill who was shocked to see he was as tall as him. Bernie Williams, though, wasn't the least bit stunned because of how long a duel threat LeMahieu has been in the MLB.
"I'm not surprised because obviously he's a great player," Williams said. "I think it's just going to be a matter of finding a place for him to actually have good at-bats to be really important during the course of the season. They're going to have to find some playing time for him."
Manager Aaron Boone already has that covered. Boone made sure to mention throughout the preseason that LeMahieu is going to be playing a lot of games thanks to his ability to play anywhere in the infield.
So, while playing the role of the Yankees' Swiss Army knife, LeMahieu will likely continue to be quiet while letting his production do the talking. There are questions that his .229 average away from Coors field -- a hitter-friendly ballpark -- should be an area of concern. But if his game Saturday is any indication of what LeMahieu will do for the Yankees this season, that notion will long be forgotten.
"I think he's going to be the surprise guy that people don't realize they have," Martinez said.