Player on rise: Dee Gordon
We all knew the potential Dee Gordon had, but after three years in the big leagues, we had yet to see it develop. It’s been a different story in 2014, and at the age of 26, it appears Gordon’s stock finally is on the rise.
Through 198 at-bats this season, Gordon is hitting .283 with a .332 OBP. He’s leading the world in stolen bases with 30, while being caught only three times. He’s walked 14 times and struck out 30 times.
When the Los Angeles Dodgers signed second baseman Alex Guerrero in the offseason, it looked to be the end for Gordon, but now the Dodgers have to be thinking about what they’ll do with Guerrero. Of course, with Hanley Ramirez set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Yankees in need of a shortstop to replace Derek Jeter, things will work themselves out.
In a little more than 2,000 at-bats in the minor leagues, Dee Gordon hit .301 with a .360 OBP. In the two minor-league seasons in which he had more than 500 at-bats, he recorded at least 53 stolen bases. This is the kind of potential Gordon has, and while we saw glimpses of it in his rookie season, when he hit .304 and stole 24 bases in 224 at-bats, he took a couple of huge steps back in 2012 and 2013.
As in most cases — especially with speed guys — when your strikeout numbers go down, you’re productivity goes up, and the decreased number of strikeouts is a big reason for Gordon’s 2014 success. He’s striking out every 6.6 at-bats this season, which is similar to his minor-league total of a strikeout every 6.3 at-bats. In his 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Dodgers, Gordon struck out every 4.7 at-bats.
Now, to temper the excitement, Gordon has followed up the month of April, in which he hit .333, by hitting just .231 in May. But still, he’s finding a way to get on base, and when he does, he’s stealing bases and scoring runs. Through 25 games played in May, Gordon reached base in 21 of those games, stealing 17 bases and scoring 18 runs.
Billy Hamilton has been getting all of the hype for what he does on the base paths, but Gordon has been far better this season at getting on base and scoring. He’s a game-changer at the top of the Dodgers’ lineup, something they’ve envisioned for years and finally are seeing come to fruition.
The Dodgers selected Dee Gordon in the fourth round of the 2008 draft and watched him climb the charts of the top prospects in the game as he was ranked 26th in 2011 by Baseball America before getting called up. The Dodgers have been patient with him, knowing his potential. It appears they’re finally being rewarded for that patience.
Gordon is an easy player to cheer for, and you have to hope this success isn’t a flash in the pan and he can keep up these numbers. While I don’t expect he’ll hit better than .300 with a .360 OBP, as he did in the minors, I do believe we’ll see him hit around .275 with a .330 OBP. And with more than 500 at-bats, he could swipe 60 or 70 bases and score 100 runs atop that powerful lineup.
The time has come for Dee Gordon. This is his last shot and he’s made the best of it so far, and I believe he keeps it up and continues to rise, becoming one of the most exciting players in baseball as we grow into an era where speed becomes vastly important.