DETROIT — DJ LeMahieu is back home in Michigan in the midst of an historic season with the Yankees.
This season, LeMahieu has helped the Yankees dominate the American League East. He started the MLB All-Star Game in his third appearance in the midsummer classic, and is eyeing the AL batting title. LeMahieu would be the first MLB player to win the battling title in both leagues, after capturing the NL crown in 2016 with the Rockies.
"We've got a special group. To continue and hopefully play into October, and all the way until the end, that's everyone's goal," LeMahieu said in a conversation in Detroit this week.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone has called LeMahieu an MVP candidate throughout the season, and reiterated those thoughts this week.
The 31-year-old LeMahieu grew up in California, Nevada, and Wisconsin, but made Michigan home just before high school. In 2007, he helped lead Brother Rice to the Catholic League at Comerica Park.
"This was, at that time, playing here was like the World Series," LeMahieu reflected. "Obviously, it was really cool playing here then, and being here in the Major Leagues is pretty special."
Looking back at that game, LeMahieu remembers a catch that still stands out to him. Brother Rice's right fielder, Pat Ebbing, was the best man at LeMahieu's wedding. Ebbing sprawled out to make a diving catch, leaving a mark on his buddy's mind.
"I think it's, to this day, the best catch I've seen on this field," he said with a smile. "Honestly, it came out of nowhere. From someone who was battling the puddles at our home field (at the Birmingham YMCA), just trying to stay on his feet -- to making a diving catch, it was pretty memorable."
LeMahieu can't remember who hit behind him in the lineup on that May day in 2007. He thinks it was either Andy Lentz or Matt Conway. Both guys played college baseball, at Georgetown and Wake Forest, respectively. But the new guy hitting behind DJ is one of the faces of the entire game, Aaron Judge.
"It's been a really fun year," LeMahieu said about his first season with the Yankees. "Just a really good vibe in the clubhouse, and the dugout."
A lot has changed for LeMahieu, but what keeps him steady is the work ethic and attention to detail that's earned him Gold Glove awards in 2014, 2017, and 2018. And those friends he played with in 2007 were still with him at Comerica Park for this September series against the Tigers.
They'll likely be there in October if LeMahieu's Yankees continue on their roll.