Sep 13, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu (9) fields a throws out St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter (not pictured) during the fourth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As the season gets underway, RoxPile.com is making some fun (but completely unqualified!) predictions about how members of the Colorado Rockies will fare this summer. In this edition: DJ LeMahieu.
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DJ LeMahieu became the first Rockies second baseman to win a Gold Glove Award when he did so last season.
He may have finally established himself as the Rockies’ second baseman of the future, after claiming the position as an everyday player who won’t turn 27 years old until July.
While the focus in the infield tends to center on Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado, and Justin Morneau (in that order), LeMahieu shouldn’t be forgotten and provides great defense and serviceable offense for the club.
What The Numbers Say
FanGraphs lists various projection systems, which you can learn more about here.
FanGraphs has compiled some varying projections on LeMahieu’s 2015, ranging from a low of 127 games played (Steamer) to a high of 152 (ZiPS). His slash lines, though, are more consistent among the projections, hovering around .280/.320/.370, all of which would be an improvement on his 2014 numbers and a tick or two higher than his career average across his first four big league seasons.
Additionally, all projections believe he’ll cut his strikeout rate from last year’s 18%, which was his career high, and maintain a walk rate roughly around 6%, which would represent an increase over his 5.1% career BB rate and would help his on-base percentage climb from the .311 and .315 marks he set in 2013 and 2014.
Call to the Pen
In a best-case scenario, I think it’s reasonable to predict somewhat of a breakout season for LeMahieu at the plate. He doesn’t have the same skill set as, say, Nolan Arenado, but he did hit .280/.311/.361 in 2013 and regressed from those numbers last season, while playing much better defense.
It’s feasible considering his history to expect a best-case for LeMahieu to hit upwards of .280 (wouldn’t an average above .290 be incredible?!) and raise his on-base percentage well above .320 to help set the table for the top of the order (especially if he’ll be hitting ninth).
A worst-case scenario for LeMahieu, besides an injury that would necessitate Rafael Ynoa, Daniel Descalso or Charlie Culberson become an every day player, centers around getting on base.
If the Rockies are going to hit Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki in the two-hole, it’s imperative LeMahieu get on base at the bottom of the order – whether he hits eighth or ninth – or else there’s no one to drive in when those two come up in the middle of the game.
An on-base percentage around .300 would be a worst-case scenario for LeMahieu, who is going to give you great glove work but might make things difficult with his bat if he can’t stay on track with the past two seasons.
I won’t be this bullish on every Rockie – believe me – but I do think LeMahieu is a good candidate for a bit of a breakout at the plate this year.
I’d love to see him flirt with a .300 batting average and a .350 on-base percentage, and while that might be a little high, I think a .285/.330/.385 slash line across 140+ games is more than reasonable (while being, you know, optimistic).
The more he gets on base, the better life will be for Charlie Blackmon, CarGo and Tulo at the top of the order. Let’s just hope Rockies pitchers can consistently lay down sacrifice bunts.
Give us your predictions!