Tuesday night, after former Colorado Rockies DJ LeMahieu hit the leadoff home run that broke the team home run streak record for the New York Yankees, I received a text from my friend Justin that simply stated: “I miss DJ.”
Who could blame Justin? DJ LeMahieu is having a career year in his first season in New York, while the Colorado Rockies have struggled to find consistency at second base. This has led to the big question: Did the Rockies make a huge mistake by not re-signing LeMahieu?
The numbers heavily favor DJ and the Yankees. In 73 games, he is hitting an AL leading .336, 12 home runs, 54 RBI, and 58 runs scored with a .907 OPS while playing multiple positions around the infield. For the Rockies, the second base position is hitting a combined .233 with 3 home runs, 37 RBI, and 43 runs scored with a .612 OPS in 79 games.
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At the time of DJ’s departure, the Rockies had some sound reasoning for letting him go. With youngsters Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, and Brendan Rodgers in the organization needing playing time to prove their potential, DJ’s exit broke up that log jam at second base.
It also gave the Rockies some much needed financial flexibility to address a need at first base. LeMahieu signed a 2-year/$24 million contract with New York while the Rockies signed Daniel Murphy to the exact same deal.
Sadly for the Rockies, letting LeMahieu go has completely backfired thus far. In Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by position, the Rockies are last in the Majors at both first and second base even with the addition of Murphy. At the same time, LeMahieu has a WAR of 3.6, which is 8th in the AL. It is not hard to believe that the Rockies would have gotten more production had they started McMahon at first and re-signed DJ.
Last but certainly not least, I can’t talk about DJ without mentioning his defense. The 3-time Gold Glove winner has committed only four errors playing first, second and third base. For the Rockies, the second base position has surrendered nine errors.
Would DJ LeMahieu have put up the same numbers as he currently is in New York if he had stuck around? We will never know but it would have been nice to find out because like Justin, I miss DJ.