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Los Angeles Dodgers in Focus: Dee Gordon’s up and Down Season

June 29th, 2014 at 10:19 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

When Spring Training opened up, Dee Gordon was nothing more than an afterthought at second base. The Los Angeles Dodgers had signed a high-priced (relatively speaking, at least) Cuban émigré in Alex Guerrero who they believed could easily be converted to second base to replace Mark Ellis. Gordon was to get an opportunity, and more than likely he would have an opportunity to be a bench player. After a failed experiment at shortstop, the Dodgers had Gordon work in the outfield and at second, perhaps trying to create a versatile bench player with one outstanding weapon: Speed.

The outcome of that Spring Training is well-documented, as Gordon went on to earn the position after a torrid spring. His offense continued to be of exceptional value, as he quickly took over the leadoff position and has remained there since.

Malingering / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While his overall numbers appear to be solid, they do not tell the whole story. So far, Gordon has put up a slash line of .297/.350/.419 with 23 extra-base hits and 25 RBI to go with his league-leading 40 steals. The Dodgers should be thrilled to have a player as dynamic as Gordon put up these numbers, but Gordon’s season has been one of peaks and valleys.

Gordon opened up the season blazing, putting up a slash line of .357/.387/.464 over his first 28 games. He stole 19 bases while only being caught twice, though there were indications all along that he could not possibly sustain this pace. During that time, his BABIP was .411 and he struck out 17 times while only walking five times. Even as Gordon was playing well, it only seemed as though it would be a matter of time before he came back down to earth.

The drop-off after those first 28 games was precipitous, as Gordon was mired in a terrible slump that caused his batting average to plummet. From May 4th through June 3rd, Gordon could only manage a slash line of .191/.262/.264, which is obviously a far cry from his early-season production. Something else happened during this time, however, as Gordon was still able to get on base enough to steal 15 bases by increasing his walk rate. He still struck out 19 times, but he also walked 11 times, and with Gordon’s speed, he was able to remain in the lineup despite the decreased production in other areas of the game.

Normally when a player goes from red-hot to ice-cold, one would expect a simple regression to the mean, wherein a player’s production levels out and his numbers reflect the player’s actual abilities. That has not happened with Gordon, as the past 22 games have seen him slash .358/.422/.568, which is even better than his torrid start to 2014. During this time, Gordon has continued to walk more and strike out less, which is an indication that he has made an adjustment to be more consistent at the plate.

During his low period from May 4th through June 3rd, it was easy to assume that Gordon had simply enjoyed an early-season hot streak and was simply producing more according to his ability. But with Gordon again hitting well while also getting on base at a greater rate, one has to wonder whether or not the low period is the outlier in his season. Obviously, Gordon has produced exceptionally well for what now amounts to the majority of the season.

The Dodgers certainly hope that Gordon has finally put his talents together and this is in fact the player he can be. A close look at his season seems to indicate that Gordon’s offensive production is here to stay.

Tags: Alex Guerrero, Baseball, Dee Gordon, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

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