June 13, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The 2012 season started with lots of promise for University of New Mexico sophomore DJ Peterson. In 2011 he was a Freshman All-American and set an NCAA record for doubles by a freshman with 32, so it was a little shocking when he started 2012 with only three hits total in his first four games.
As it turned out, that was just a minor speed bump for the third baseman from Gilbert, Ariz. He collected three hits in three of the next four games on his way to a truly monster season. He hit .419 with 17 home runs and 78 RBIs to lead the Mountain West in all three categories to win the league's overall triple crown. UNLV’s Eric Nielsen in 2004 and Utah’s C.J. Cron in 2011 are the only other players to accomplish the feat.
Even more impressive is the manner in which he blew the competition away. His average was 42 points higher than the next closest hitter, and he smashed six more home runs and drove in 21 more runs than anyone else in the conference.
"DJ is a first-class kid," UNM head coach Ray Birmingham said. "He has grown and matured as a baseball player and as a person. He is another in a line of great Lobo hitters and will be playing on TV someday.
"He represents the University of New Mexico at the highest level."
Peterson's historic year earned him plenty of recognition around the country. He was named Mountain West Player of the Week three times and earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors with teammate Mitchell Garver. He was named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist as well as a Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist. Collegiate Baseball newspaper named him a First Team Louisville Slugger All-American. USA Baseball named him to their Collegiate National Team that will play games in North Carolina, Cuba, and The Netherlands this summer.
He led the nation with 182 total bases, which was good enough to rank third all-time at UNM. He also finished second in Division I in both hits and RBIs as he recorded at least one hit in all but eight of UNM's games this season.
Add it all together and you get one of the many reasons the 2012 season was a successful one for the Lobos.