DENVER -- With the National League batting title in hand, DJ LeMahieu exited the Rockies' 4-1 win over the Brewers on Friday after the third inning. It will likely be the last time LeMahieu plays all season, as he effectively clinches the National League batting title.LeMahieu started the game 0-for-2
DENVER -- With the National League batting title in hand, DJ LeMahieu exited the Rockies' 4-1 win over the Brewers on Friday after the third inning. It will likely be the last time LeMahieu plays all season, as he effectively clinches the National League batting title.
LeMahieu started the game 0-for-2 with a fielder's choice and fly out but still leads Nationals infielder Daniel Murphy .3478 to .3472. Murphy is battling a left gluteal strain and hasn't played since Sept. 20 or started since Sept. 17.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss previously said that he would be willing to manipulate LeMahieu's playing time to help him secure the batting title since it is won over 162 games and not any one game.
"It's a unique situation because Murphy is injured and not playing," Weiss said before Friday's game. "If he's playing, they can fight it out, but I don't want DJ to lose a batting title that way. So, yeah, I'm going to pay attention to the math. My philosophy, whether you like it or not is I'm going to take care of the guys that take care of our team. DJ's one of those guys that takes care of our team."
LeMahieu has sat out three games this week, and Weiss hinted that LeMahieu won't play unless Murphy hits again. The Nationals' final game of the season is at 1:05 p.m. MT on Sunday, which begins five minutes before the Rockies final game does.
"It's probably the least amount of fun I've had all year," LeMahieu said. "Part of me wants to be out there competing, doing what I've been doing all year. The other part of me sees there's something really special out there, and I'm going to let Walt take care of it."
With a hit in either of his first two at-bats, LeMahieu likely would have stayed in the game. However, even if he made another out, his average would have fallen to .347197, which is still 0.000028 better than Murphy.
"The plan was today to get those hits early and play the rest of the weekend," LeMahieu said. "It didn't happen that way, but we'll see what happens tomorrow."
Weiss famously did not start first baseman Justin Morneau in the final two games of the 2014 season and gave him just one pinch-hit opportunity. Morneau won the batting title with a .319 average, besting Pirates infielder Josh Harrison, who hit .314.
"I like when the good guys are rewarded by the game, and if I can help that happen, then I'll do it as long as it doesn't affect the integrity of the game," Weiss said. "I think there's a way to do it respectfully that respects the game and respects the player. That's all I look at."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.