The player who clearly was the Yankees’ MVP this season came up short for the American League honor in results announced early Thursday night.
DJ LeMahieu, who officially hit the free agent market Wednesday night after declining the Yankees’ $18.9 million qualifying offer for next season, finished third in AL MVP voting. White Sox slugger Jose Abreu won the award.
Alex Rodriguez remains the most recent Yankee to win it, doing so in 2007 (as well as 2005). Don Mattingly in 1985 was the most recent Yankee to win it before A-Rod.
Abreu, the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year who led the AL in hits (76), slugging (.617), RBIs (60) and total bases (148) in helping lead the White Sox to their first playoff berth since 2008, won the award with 21 first-place votes, eight second-place votes and one third-place tally for 374 total points. Abreu’s 19 homers placed him second in the AL behind the Yankees’ Luke Voit, who hit an MLB-leading 22 homers.
"I was super exited to share the moment with my family and the people I love," Abreu, 33, said through his interpreter on a conference call after the announcement. "Just grateful to be honored with this award. You have to enjoy what life gives you and that was a special moment for me."
Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez, who finished third in AL MVP voting in 2017 and ’18 but followed that with a down season in 2019, finished second in the voting.
Ramirez enjoyed a rebound 2020 in which he hit .292 with 17 homers and a career-best .993 OPS in leading his team to the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, where it lost to the Yankees in two games in the best-of-three wild-card round. Ramirez scored eight first-place votes and 17 second-place votes on his way to 303 points.
LeMahieu, who garnered one first-place vote, five-second place tallies and 15 third-place votes finished a distant third with 230 points.
The 32-year-old LeMahieu, who finished fourth in MVP voting in 2019 – the first of two highly successful seasons with the Yankees after signing what turned out to be one of the most team-friendly contracts in the game (two years for $24 million), led all of Major League Baseball in batting average this season at .364. He became the second player in MLB history to win a batting title in both leagues having won the NL crown in 2016 after hitting .348.
LeMahieu, whom the Yankees very much would like to re-sign but will have plenty of company in the bidding as they are one of many teams interested in the All-Star infielder’s services for 2021 and beyond, also led the AL in OPS (1.011) and on-base percentage (.421).
The standout second baseman, who has also filled in more than capably in his time with the Yankees when asked to play third and first, has not hidden his affinity for the pinstripes. Speaking on MLB Network a little more than an hour before the announcement, LeMahieu called the Bombers "a really good fit," which backs up what the player has consistently said since his first season in the Bronx.
"I want to stay here. I’ve said that a few times. You never know how it goes," LeMahieu said toward the end of the 2020 regular season. "I thought I was going to stay in Colorado (where LeMahieu played from 2012-18) and I didn’t. So, obviously, I’m hoping to be back here. You just never know how it goes."
AL MVP Top 5 Vote-Getters
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points
JOSE ABREU, White Sox 21 8 1 — — 374
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland 8 17 3 2 — 303
DJ LeMahieu, Yankees 1 5 15 3 2 230
Shane Bieber, Cleveland — — 4 10 9 173
Mike Trout, Angels — — 4 10 2 172