DJ LeMahieu led all of baseball in batting average last season, partially in thanks to the ridiculous BABIP. Duck snorts, bloops, and seeing-eye singles. Whatever silly terms you want to use for the extra hits that Coors Field creates, the BABIP there is undeniable. The altitude gets all the hype for the run scoring environment, the spacious confines of Coors causes plenty of balls to drop.
LeMahieu, the Rockies’ second baseman, with his good bat-on-ball skills, takes full advantage of this. He is currently the number 13 second baseman off the board in fantasy baseball drafts, going #88 overall. If you don’t want to invest in one of the big names, wait for LeMahieu.
At first glance, LeMahieu’s elevated 2016 batting average seems unsustainable. While it is highly unlikely he will repeat his .348 average, he likely will not regress too far off that mark. On first blush, his .388 BABIP is laughably unsustainable, but Coors says otherwise. Ample dimensions, his batting profile and speed all combine for a potential for continued success for LeMahieu in 2017. LeMahieu’s BABIP was much higher than the league average of about .300, but so is his career BABIP. He has never had a stop where he has had lower than .300 BABIP, no matter the sample size. He also has matured as a hitter over the last two years, learning to take advantage of his skills to continually stave off BABIP regression. His BABIP has risen each of the last three seasons, which defies all odds.
While Coors Field helps with LeMahieu’s BABIP, it isn’t just that. He has a ridiculous .420 mark for home games but still has a well above average .351 on the road. The secret behind LeMahieu’s batting average success is his vastly different plate approach compared to the league average. He hits the ball for a line drive or a grounder 76% of the time, at a rate much higher than most of the league (65%). Line drives have the highest odds of landing for hits (68.5%) and ground balls go for hits nearly a quarter of the time. This is how LeMahieu maintains a seemingly unsustainable BABIP and can maintain his high average. His plate approach means a ton of line drives, a ton of ground balls, and a ton of times that DJ LeMahieu is standing on first base.
Like always, the Rockies’ offense promises to be potent, and fantasy baseball draft data reflects this. Seven of the eight every day Rockies hitters are going in the first 64 hitters off the board, including LeMahieu. Fangraphs projects him for 80 R and 60 RBI, which would be a big step back in both departments.
LeMahieu slots in as #2 in the Rockies’ order, which means he won’t have a ton of RBI opportunity. But with Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Desmond behind him, he will cross home plate more than enough times. His speed is decent enough, and he should chip in between ten and twenty steals for your squad. His batting average will buoy your team if you snagged a Chris Davis-type, and he will contribute enough in other categories to be a set-and-forget starter. At #88 overall, and outside the top twelve second baseman off the board, DJ LeMahieu promises to be the value glue that holds your fantasy baseball team together.