DJ LeMahieu
(AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez)

DJ LeMahieu‘s rise to New York Yankees glory has surprised everyone except the teammates he left behind with the Colorado Rockies.

Geoff Magliocchetti

One of MLB’s most pleasant 2019 surprises has been New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu. The starting second baseman for the American League All-Star team leads the entirety of his side’s batters with an average of .336, pairing it with 12 home runs and 63 runs batted in.

His offensive efforts aren’t the only reason the Yankees have amassed an AL-best 57-31 record, but they’ve played a major role. The fact he is one of three Yankees to play at least 80 games has certainly helped in a year where nearly every major contributor has missed significant time due to injury.

The rise of LeMahieu is a shock to everyone … except the group that has seen it all before.

Prior to joining the Yankees, LeMahieu spent seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies. His former teammates see his surge as business as usual.

“It’s no surprise to me that he’s doing what he’s doing,” Rockies centerfielder Charlie Blackmon said at the MLB All-Star Game’s media day, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “I am very happy to see the rest of the baseball world take notice. Sometimes it takes doing that for the Yankees to get the word out.”

“He’s been doing that for the last five, six, seven years,” Colorado shortstop Trevor Story added in the report. “Good for him. He deserves that credit and attention that he’s getting, and obviously no surprise to all of the Rockies guys.”

LeMahieu reunited with his former Mile High teammates this week, as the baseball world converged on Cleveland for the 2019 All-Star Game festivities. He was one of five Yankees representing New York, while the Rockies had a respectable contingent of four. Joining Blackmon and Story were third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder David Dahl.

The current Rockies remarked that the team will often tune into Yankee games before their own in the Mountain time zone to keep tabs on LeMahieu. He signed a two-year, $24 million deal in The Bronx in January.

“We’ll be like, ‘What are the chances he gets a hit right here?’”  Arenado said, per The Post. “We’re always like, ‘100.’ And then he gets a hit.”

LeMahieu hits were no strange sight at Coors Field. He topped the NL with a .348 average in 2016, part of a tenure that saw 1,011 hits in a Rockies uniform. That mark is good for ninth in Colorado baseball history. Other accolades won with the team include three Gold Gloves and two prior All-Star appearances.

“I’m excited he’s getting more attention just for a guy who doesn’t hit a lot of homers,” Arenado said in the same report. “He’s like the old school player that uses the whole field, hits line drives, plays the game the right way. Gold Glove defense. So that part, I think it’s kind of cool to appreciate that again. Back in the day, that was the way to be, and now it’s coming back.”

LeMahieu’s lights-out hitting temporarily shut down in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He went 0-for-2 in a pair of plate appearances before giving way to teammate Gleyber Torres. Blackmon would hit a home run in the sixth for the NL, while Dahl scored one of the two runs on Pete Alonso‘s eighth-inning single. LeMahieu and the AL won the game 4-3.

The Rockies (44-45) remain in the thick of the NL wild-card picture at the break. They entered the event on a six-game losing streak after dropping consecutive series to Houston and Arizona. 2.5 games separate them from the Philadelphia Phillies, the current holders of the final NL playoff spot. Their season resumes on Friday night against Cincinnati (8:40 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain).

It’s like that LeMahieu’s old comrades won’t find his hits earned on July 19-21 so charming. The Rockies are set to visit The Bronx for the first time since 2016 on those dates. First, the Yankees will open their post-All-Star slate on Friday, when the Toronto Blue Jays visit (7:05 p.m. ET, YES).

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