Dee Gordon- Mr. Irreplaceable?
Dee Doing What Dee Does Best Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
It’s May 5th, Dee Gordon has a case of the “bad”, batting 2nd (!!) for the Dodgers is: some combination of Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.
How do you feel about that? If it sounds like the worst thing ever, it’s because it is. There are more reasons why Dee Gordon is pretty much forced to be an adequate major league second baseman. However I think the ever present threat of Figgins getting more than 100 PA’s this season is good enough to hope that Dee Gordon can be not horrible.
Now, lets make it clear, Gordon has looked like an adequate major leaguer thus far. To his credit, an offseason of realizing it was either make the big league club or be traded and completely cast a doubt to whether you have a future as a major league player at all seems to have motivated him enough to put on weight and condition himself both physically and mentally. He came into camp and clearly beat out Alexander Guerrero despite what I wanted to have happen, but hey he earned it and is making me look silly, which is more than fine.
Sure, Dee Gordon is certainly not the most irreplaceable Dodger. That ¨honor¨ goes to Hanley Ramirez, but he´s sure close. You know of Alexander Guerrero´s injury, and that will cost him at least two more weeks. Meaning he wont even be on the field for the Albuquerque Isotopes until late April. You figure it takes him awhile to get accustomed to American life, and the routine and grind of playing everyday. You figure it will take awhile for him to adjust to seeing AAA pitchers throwing at 100% (something that wasn´t happening in Spring Training daily), and you´re easily looking at mid-late May at the absolute earliest. So his backups are in line for playing time in the event of a Gordon implosion in the short term. As mentioned earlier that´s Justin Turner who is the definition of a utility man, but not a starter in any sense of the word. Chone Figgins who looks great! Yep Figgins has looked awesome, he has some nice plate discipline, versatility, and CLUBHOUSE PRESENCE. Just as long as he never swings the bat, ever, at all, he´ll be a fine bench piece. But i´ll go ahead and say the season is a disaster if at any point Chone starts more than 2 consecutive non-September games.
Other than that you have Miguel Rojas.
So there really isn´t anything beyond Dee Gordon to protect the Dodgers from complete catastrophe at second base early on in the season.
The good news is that Dee Gordon doesn´t need to be even an average hitter to be a good overall player, he´s a very good baserunner (8.6 baserunning above average in his career), he´s already recorded positive value at second base this season (and save from that disgusting play yesterday, he´s looked incredible). Yeah, he´s not going to keep up a .440 weighted on base average, or a .412 average. But as long as he can hit for enough power to be able to square up the ball every once in awhile, and keep up his improved walk rate (9.5%) and decreased strikeout rate (14.3%) which by the way is one of the most positive developments of his career, then I´m more than fine with him starting (but also not playing him versus the Madison Bumgarner´s of the world) and hitting in the 8th hole for the Dodgers right now.
No, Dee Gordon hasn´t proven quite yet that he can be starting caliber 2b yet, and it will take more than 5 games to make a determination on that, but lets be glad that through 5 games he´s looked pretty impressive. He´s no lock to be the starting 2b past mid-May even, but we really have to hope he has the chops to play a good second base, or else the Dodgers 2b woes just amplified.
Starting Justin Turner and/or Chone Figgins isn´t ideal. Lets hope Dee Gordon is.