clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ranking the Rockies: No. 6 DJ LeMahieu stuck it to the haters

DJ LeMahieu: All-Star. Say it with me now.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DJ LeMahieu entered 2015 coming off his first season as an everyday player. All he did in 2014 was win the National League Gold Glove at second base while posting a defensive WAR of 2.2. Despite this accomplishment, fans expressed concern over his offensive numbers, which declined for the second consecutive year in 2014. He was also a huge liability on the bases, getting thrown out just as often has he was called safe on stolen base attempts. LeMahieu addressed these issues and then some in 2015, putting together the best season of his career to date and making his first All-Star Game in the process.

Just like the Rockies, April was very good to DJ. By the time the calendar flipped to May he was batting an astronomical .417, and the quasi-sarcastic hashtag #LeBattingTitle was starting to look more plausible by the day. In May and June he came back to earth, and by July his average had dipped below the .300 mark. Here's the thing though: On June 30th, DJ was hitting .301, which is the same average he finished the season with. He may have returned to earth, but "earth" is a much better place for DJ LeMahieu than it was in 2014. He led all qualifying players on the team in batting average and on-base percentage, and his OPS of .746 was a career high. After accumulating exactly 0.0 offensive WAR in his first five seasons in the majors, he was good for 2.0 oWAR in 2015. He's still not knocking the cover off the ball by any means (only 32 of his 170 hits went for extra bases), but DJ had a career high 61 runs batted in this season, and he was no longer a player that pitchers could take lightly.

Perhaps the two most encouraging stats LeMahieu put up last year were his walk rate and his stolen bases. DJ walked in 8.1% of his trips to the plate, which was a full two percentage points higher than his previous career best. This translated to a .358 on-base percentage that was 43 points higher than 2014 and 26 points higher than any previous season. Once he was actually on base, he stayed there, and frequently moved up. After going an abysmal 10/20 on stolen base attempts in 2014, LeMahieu was 23/26 in '15. This suddenly viable offensive player is now a threat to steal bases, and he's still a darn good defensive second baseman as well.

With that being said, if there's one hole you can poke in DJ's stellar 2015, it was that he posted the worst defensive ratings of his career and failed to win a second consecutive gold glove. He's still absolutely an above average second baseman and he made some spectacular plays, but he posted by far the worst UZR/150 of his career at 0.8. For comparison, he was over 10 in that category in both 2013 and 2014. If he can put together 2014's defense with 2015's offense in 2016, he'll be one of the elite second basemen in baseball.

The high point of LeMahieu's season came when he started the 2015 All-Star game in Cincinnati as an injury replacement and made some nice plays in the field in front of a national audience that had probably never heard of him before. It was a tremendously cool thing to see him get that opportunity, and it's something that can never be taken away from him.

In two seasons as an everyday player, DJ LeMahieu has a gold glove and an All-Star Game appearance. He's 27 and entering what should be the prime of his career. Whether he stays with the Rockies or not, his future looks bright. Just don't expect him to win a Silver Slugger anytime soon.

Then again...