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Dee Gordon Making It Interesting As Alex Guerrero Shows Power

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Dee Gordon, it must be said, has been outstanding over the first two weeks of the season, hitting .400/.457/.525. He hit a homer off of Max Scherzer. He has four walks. He stole four bases on Sunday alone, leading the big leagues, and also leading to Jeff Sullivan dedicating a post to his speed at FanGraphs. He’s just a hair behind Jason Heyward for being the most valuable baserunner in baseball to date. At the plate and on the base paths, Gordon has been the entire package, and considering just how messy the second base situation looked all winter, this is more than we could have possibly hoped for, especially if you were worried about weeks of Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.

You know why I used that otherwise not-that-appealing picture above as the main image? Because Vin Scully said on the air that the Diamondbacks were so worried about Gordon bunting, they added sand to the dirt (the lighter area above) to try to deaden any bunt attempt. I have absolutely no idea if that’s true, it should be noted. But it could be true, and the fact that we even believe it to be a possibility says a lot about what he’s done.

So Gordon has been great over the first two weeks, and no one can take that away from him. I’m impressed, and I want to see more, and that says a lot. For a very long time, “wanting to see more Dee Gordon” was at about the same level as “wanting to see more Brandon League,” and I’m pleasantly surprised.

Of course, we can appreciate what Gordon has done while still remaining in the realm of reality. It’s been 46 plate appearances. Luis Cruz once hit .429/.455/.667 over 44 plate appearances. Charlie Blackmon is hitting .478/.490/.696 in 49 plate appearances. Chase Utley is hitting .489/.549/.844 in 51 plate appearances. Allen Craig is hitting .133/.184/.133 in 49 plate appearances. Literally anything can happen over a handful of times to the plate, and since Gordon’s BABIP is .441, he is going to decline. That’s not me being a buzzkill. That’s just the facts of the game we love. No one can keep up a .441 BABIP all season long. It cannot be done.

There’s also this: his defensive transition to second base has been… okay. And okay is okay, because it’s a new position and he was an awful shortstop and no one expected him to be a standout defender by April 15. If we can expect that his offense will regress, because it will, then we can probably hope that his defense will improve as he gains experience. He won’t be among the best hitters in baseball all year long; one would hope that he won’t be among the worst-ranked defensive second baseman either, as his -2 Defensive Runs Saved rating would indicate.

Down in Albuquerque, Alex Guerrero has made his debut after missing a few weeks thanks to an oblique strain. In eight plate appearances over two games, he has two homers, and a walk, and a double, and three singles. Thanks to the magic of the internet, we can see them both.

On Sunday, against Clay Rapada:

On Monday, against Jonathan Arias:

That’s after a better spring training than you remember — again, spring stats mean little, but a .300/.400/.500 almost seems surprising after all the negative press he got — though, like Gordon, defense remains a question.

Again, it’s April 15, so none of this means a lot. All we know so far is this: Gordon’s excellent start has contributed to winning ballgames, and it will likely allow the Dodgers to prevent rushing Guerrero up to the big leagues. At some point, Guerrero will be in Los Angeles. By then, either Gordon will have collapsed, or he’ll have turned himself into valuable trade bait, or a speedy and useful utility man. Two of those three things will be happy outcomes for the Dodgers. That’s two more than I think most of us thought there would be six months or a year ago, and for that alone, he deserves our applause.

With righty Tim Lincecum on the mound tonight in San Francisco, I imagine Gordon will be leading off and playing second. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. This is progress. Great progress.


About

Mike wrote daily for over six long years (2007-13) about the Dodgers at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, which was named 2011′s “Best Sports Blog” by LA Weekly. He can currently be found writing multiple times per week at FanGraphs and ESPN, has been a producer and editor for Sports on Earth, and built The Hardball Times. He lives in New York City and will probably be asleep or on vacation when awesome things happen.