Colorado Rockies: DJ LeMahieu’s departure still stings two seasons later
By Aaron Hurt
There are multiple explanations for the Colorado Rockies’ failures the last two seasons, but the departure of second baseman DJ LeMahieu is at the top of that list.
On Wednesday night, the New York Yankees capped off their Wild Card series sweep over the Cleveland Indians in a wild 10-9 victory thanks in large part to a ninth-inning clutch RBI single by DJ LeMahieu. This year marks the fourth straight season LeMahieu has reached the playoffs, two in his final seasons Colorado Rockies and two with the Yankees.
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Since leaving the Rockies, LeMahieu has absolutely flourished. In 2019, he finished fourth in AL MVP race by hitting .327/.375/.518 with 26 home runs, 102 RBI, and 109 runs scored to go along with 5.4 WAR. He followed that up this season by hitting a staggering 364/.421/.590 with 10 homers, 27 RBI, and 41 runs with a 2.9 WAR in only 50 games.
For the Rockies, things have gone completely the opposite. Since finishing second in the NL West in 2018 after losing the tiebreaker game to the Los Angeles Dodgers, they have placed fourth in the West both seasons at a combined 28 games under .500 and have received very little production from LeMahieu’s spot in the Rockies’ lineup.
The Rockies tried to filled LeMahieu’s roster spot by signing Daniel Murphy to play first base, signing him to the exact same two-year/$24 million contract that LeMahieu signed with the Yankees. Murphy proved to be a free agent disaster, slashing a mere .269/.316/.426 in only 172 games while also providing poor defense at first, leading to him being benched the final month of this season.
The Rockies have also struggled to find a suitable replacement for LeMahieu at second. The Rockies have use five different starters at that position over the last two seasons as Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson have failed to provide consistent play and top-prospect Brendan Rodgers has struggled to stay healthy.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but the downfall of the Rockies can easily be pointed to GM Jeff Bridich’s decision not to re-sign LeMahieu following the 2018 season.