Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
You know who is probably the least controversial player to review for the 2013 Rockies season? None other than DJ LeMahieu, who has solidified his spot as the starting second baseman for next season. He deserves any praises he receives: his bat was solid and his defense was outstanding. Walt Weiss was able to move him up and down the lineup as he dealt with injuries throughout the season. As the Rockies consider their roster moving forward, it appears that they have finally, finally, finally solved the riddle that has been second base. There is tremendous value in that.
LeMahieu’s contributions will always be understated. He is a sound but unspectacular player (save for certain moments on defense). He’s the guy you don’t always notice, but you also never complain about him. He’s the kind of guy that will dubbed as one who “plays the game the right way,” because we know we have to say something nice about him but we often come up empty when seeking an actual compliment.
DJ is a steady hitter at the plate; he hits for a good average and does a good job of putting the ball in play. By the old model of building a batting order, he makes sense as a second hitter. You can probably rely on him in a hit and run, to move the runner along, and so on. Do I still wish the Rockies would bat their best hitter second? Yes I do, but that’s another conversation to have (again) on another day.
For the 2013 season LeMahieu batted .280/.311/.361 with two home runs, 39 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. He struck out only 67 times in 404 at-bats, which was good for the second best K% (15.7%) of the Rockies’ regulars (only Nolan Arenado was better with a 14% mark).
Defense was where LeMahieu shined. In 750 innings at second, DJ committed only three errors, good for a .993 fielding percentage. He had 10 DRS (defensive runs saved) and a 6.4 UZR. Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck points out just how good LeMahieu was.
And that’s where there’s some real excitement about the infield. If you put LeMahieu and Arenado on either side of star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, you have an elite defensive infield. That will make a huge difference for the Rockies and it will help their pitching staff out tremendously, something we already saw this past year (especially in the cases of Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood).
DJ LeMahieu had a solid season, and he will hopefully continue to have solid seasons in the future. Even if he doesn’t create a lot of buzz…