DJ LeMahieu was once a second round pick of the Chicago Cubs, but he has consistently been a forgotten man in the shadows. On a recruiting visit to Clemson, his tour was given by future first round pick Kyle Parker. He chose LSU and won the 2009 College World Series, but that roster had three first round picks on it.
Despite hitting well in the Chicago Cubs system, LeMahieu was traded as a throw-in piece to balance out the Ian Stewart - Tyler Colvin trade. After 2012, it seemed clear the tall second baseman was not the best piece the Rockies acquired in the deal. Coming into 2013, the Rockies all but guaranteed Josh Rutledge the second base job. LeMahieu was pushed down to AAA while Chris Nelson, Reid Brignac, Jonathan Herrera and Jordan Pacheco all made the Opening Day roster.
LeMahieu proceeded to pound down the door in AAA, hitting .364/.405/.510 over 33 games. Meanwhile, Josh Rutledge had significant trouble out of the gate, opening the door for LeMahieu. The Michigan native provided defensive stability and plus baserunning right off the bat, but he also was not overmatched at the plate as Rutledge had been.
LeMahieu was not a fully impactful player, but the best word that describes his contributions to the 2013 Rockies is undoubtedly "stability." The stability he provided to the middle infield was critical in supporting the success of the pitch-to-contact strategy of the Rockies pitching staff. By any measure, the 6'4" middle infielder was a well above average defensive second baseman.
|2013 - DJ LeMahieu||109||404||39||113||21||3||2||28||19||67||18||7||.280||.311||.361|
|DJ LeMahieu - 2013 WAR||Bat (R)
LeMahieu is still in pre-arbitration and has certainly earned himself a roster spot in 2014. While it might seem he should have the second base job sewn up for next April, his consistent bat was surprisingly as subpar as it was consistent. His .280/.311/.361 batting line was actually worse than the also defensively valuable Jonathan Herrera: (.292/.336/.364).
LeMahieu rarely takes walks and does not have much power, so his contributions with the bat often came strictly through singles. In the season's last month, he managed just a 73 wRC+ despite a .373 BABIP. That illustrates the low ceiling LeMahieu has with his bat. Meanwhile, Josh Rutledge rebounded with a .328/.381/.431 (107 wRC+) line in the last month. LeMahieu's ability to be a plus defender at second and third base and a passable one at short would make him an ideal utility infielder. I do not believe he is the answer at second base, but he might be the right guy to start there Opening Day in 2014.