When D.J. LeMahieu won his first Gold Glove at the end of the 2014 season, it came to the surprise of almost no one who has watched him play at any point in his life.
One of the few young ball players who put more emphasis on fielding practice than batting, LeMahieu’s hard work on the diamond finally came to fruition last year when he won the award.
“I always liked taking groundballs more than I liked batting practice,” LeMahieu said in an article for The Detroit News. “My Dad (Tom) would hit me tons and tons of groundballs.”
Already with arguably the best fielding infield in the game, LeMahieu has soared out of the gates with the bat in hopes of making it the best hitting one as well. A career .276 hitter heading into his age-26 season, the former LSU product has torn the cover off the ball, currently leading the majors in hitting with a .419 average.
With the reigning batting title champ, Justin Morneau, the always dangerous-when-healthy Troy Tulowitzki and two-time Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado – they certainly have the makings of the best infield in the game.
D.J. LeMahieu: Offense Starting To Catch Up To Defense
LeMahieu opened the season with a nine game hitting streak, six of which were multi-hit performances (going even further, three were three-hit contest). Only four times on the young season has the Rockies’ second baseman failed to register a base hit, compared to eight mult-hit games overall on the year.
A key to his success has been his ability to put the ball in play, as well as an even split in his home/away hitting. In his first four years of big league experience, LeMahieu struck out in 17% of his plate appearances. In the early goings of the 2015 season, LeMahieu has only struck out 11.9% of the times he has stepped into the batter’s box.
One of the biggest downfalls of any player that has donned a Rockies’ jersey has been their inability to maintain a ‘healthy’ home/away split. Coor’s Field has been long known as an extremely hitter-friendly park and has helped skewed some players numbers in a direction that is misleading.
All though Coor’s may have helped him in the early part of the year, LeMahieu has seen success both at home and on the road this season. While his numbers still look better at home, it isn’t by much, as his .414 average on the road is only ten points less than what he is hitting at Coor’s.
Even though he has been more known for his glove, LeMahieu has hit wherever he has gone. A .321 career hitter in the minors, including .325 in the upper levels (Double and Triple-A), so to an extent it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise he is finally taking off the way he has.
It’s crazy to assume that he will keep up this pace, but thanks to the lineup he plays in as well as some home cooking at Coor’s, it isn’t as crazy to think LeMahieu can truly establish himself as one of the premier all-around second baseman in the game.
He can certainly help the Rockies improve from their 66 win effort in 2014, as almost a month in they find themselves near the top of the up-in-the-air NL West division.