Dee Gordon Actually Made An All-Star Team

If you know me,  you know that I don’t really put much stock into All-Star teams. Between fan voting, ballot box stuffing, over-importance placed on guys off to unsustainable hot starts (hi, Charlie Blackmon!), and the “every team must be represented” rule, it’s more of a fun diversion than an actual accounting of the best players in baseball. I don’t blame fans for wanting to see Derek Jeter get one more sendoff, but no one is pretending he’s actually the best choice to represent the American League at shortstop. Usually, I ignore the process entirely and don’t post about it at all.

Well, that’s “usually,” and this year, I can’t help but acknowledge it. Dee Gordon just made the All-Star team. That’s the same Gordon who was all but forgotten in 2012 after his thumb injury led to Hanley Ramirez‘ acquisition and Luis Cruz‘ opportunity. The same Gordon who was so atrocious on both sides of the ball while filling in for Ramirez in 2013 that the Dodgers gave up and had Nick Punto play shortstop. The same Gordon who was so lightly thought of this winter that the Dodgers committed $28 million to Alex Guerrero, despite being completely uncertain if Guerrero could even play the position.

If that Dee Gordon had merely been able to make it as a bench player or be worth a mild trade return or had any kind of career other than Quad-A, I think we’ve have considered it a success. He was a lost cause; he couldn’t hit, he couldn’t play shortstop, it was uncertain whether he could play second, and having speed alone wasn’t enough. When he got off to a hot start in April — 143 wRC+ — we appreciated it, but knew that with a .385 BABIP he couldn’t keep it up. He didn’t, regressing to an 80 wRC+ in May, but then came right back in June, putting up a 136 mark that was even more impressive because it came with a BABIP 40 points lower.

91topps_deegordonGordon has cut his strikeout percentage by five points. He’s doubled his ISO. The added muscle he put on over the winter has clearly been helpful; his improved contact rate — particularly in the zone — has been a big part of it too, even if he hasn’t been walking more. On defense, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but he’s clearly been unquestionably better than he has been at shortstop, with the potential for more improvement as he gains experience at the position. He has 42 steals; he’s been caught only nine times. He is, at the moment, the most valuable second baseman in the National League.

I’m floored, really. Anyone who said they saw this coming — yes, you — is lying. There was no conceivable way to see a breakout like this. I’m not sure that a half-season is enough for me to fully believe, but it’s damn close. He’s been fantastic, to the point that Alex Guerrero might be a multi-positional reserve if and when he returns. Whether or not Gordon is a true-talent 5 WAR player going forward, which I’ll take the under on, is barely relevant. What he’s done to date matters, and it’s been outstanding, even if I wouldn’t mind entertaining the thought of selling high this winter.

Gordon isn’t just a solid player. He’s an All-Star. I’m not sure I’ve ever typed less likely words. Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke all made the team, too, by the way, to the surprise of no one. I’m sure they’ll take no offense that the focus here is on Gordon. What a story.


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.


362 comments
Scott_7791
Scott_7791

It's not entirely accurate to say that "There was no conceivable way to see a breakout like this", or that anyone who claims they saw this coming is "lying".  Those that who use stats to analyze everything certainly didn't, as Dee was ridiculed by Fangraphs and other popular, stat-heavy sites as far back as 2012.  It's understandable, as Dee was disappointing, to say the least.  But there were old school baseball types and "non-academic" fans who found Dee Gordon's style of play very exciting and unique (albeit raw), and did not completely give up on the idea that Dee Gordon could someday be a star.  (Just one example- on October 21, 2013, someone by the name of Christian wrote the following on Twitter- "Everyone asks me who my favorite baseball player is, they make fun of me when i say this, but i don't care. it's @FlashGJr. always will be.") Of COURSE nobody "knew" this would happen, but nobody knows ANYTHING that will happen for sure.  To say that no one could have anticipated this are doing a disservice to those who did.


(None of this is to sound like someone that rants about numbers geeks.  Personally, I LOVE statistics, but there are certain players where numbers don't tell the whole story.  Dee Gordon WAS one of those players, but thanks to the fact that his stats have caught up to his vast potential, he no longer has to be.)

myplane150
myplane150

I'm kinda with you about the all star game.  I rarely watch it because it has always been more about the popular players than anything.  At least with the fan voting.  I think that the player/coaches vote for the reserves are the better indicator of who is actually an all star.  Sometimes the fans get it right, other times, not so much.  Dee getting the vote by the players and coaches is pretty cool.  Also, I was worried he would be a quad A just like you.

moneynow27
moneynow27

Hello....On SNLA's Backstage Dodgers, Matt Kemp told Jerry Hairston that "he's not done playing CF."  "I may be a LF now, but I'll be back in CF."  Maybe so, when CC returns, if they feel they have to give CC playing time in LF.

Jeremy_N
Jeremy_N

can any guy on here recommend a good book for a first time father that is actually worth buying? all the books i have seen are pretty ridiculous. 

Dang88
Dang88

DK saw this coming

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

I am so pleased I was able to work this GIF into this morning's upcoming FanGraphs post:


BIah
BIah

good morning east coast

Lobo
Lobo

Ok, that was a thoroughly entertaining way to end my night.  Got tons more of those to watch tomorrow

Jeremy_N
Jeremy_N

@moneynow27 i like his attitude. what was he going to say, i sucked at CF so bad? i doubt Don will move him back and forth tho.

Shroom
Shroom

@Dang88 DK is a prophet. We should listen to everything he says because it obviously comes true.

finleysgrandslam
finleysgrandslam

@Mike Petriello i really want to stand in the batter's box to see what pitches like this look like. Kershaw's curve, Mo's cutter etc. I don't know if I could even stand to watch a Chapman fastball.

Bull Doggy Dogg
Bull Doggy Dogg

@Lobo professional youtubers are so confusing. i didn't think i was too old to understand social media etc etc but i guess i am. these guys and progressional instagramers are just a brain melt. 

BIah
BIah

@Lobo Did you just discover the react videos recently?

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

@capnsparrow it'll be on 730 or so tomorrow morning, but is rebroadcast a few times during the day on nbc sports 

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I think the pitcher that would scare me most in the box is the current iteration of Daniel Bard

BIah
BIah

@Bull Doggy Dogg @Lobo I was at VidCon last week and the whole culture and economy of the business is now becoming a very interesting mix of a cottage industry and a centralized corporation.  Lots of people are becoming very famous now while still earning only a little above working class salaries

Lobo
Lobo

@BIah @Lobo I'd seen a couple but I just started watching a bunch of them.  Friend of mine showed me the most recent one with Kids reacting to the original Gameboy and it kind of snowballed from there.  I fucking love the YouTubers react because these guys are so funny.  And it was awesome to see MatPat from Game Theory in one of them

DBrim
DBrim moderator

If you go too far over your pool, you can't sign anybody for over 250k in the following year.

Lobo
Lobo

@BIah @Lobo Man and now there's like 20 new YouTubers I need to check out based on how funny they are in these videos

DBrim
DBrim moderator

Puig was 21. These kids are 16.

Jeremy_N
Jeremy_N

@DBrim so you have to really like a guy to go as far as the rays did. understandable to not want to go all in on a 16 year old.

BIah
BIah

@Lobo @BIah you see now why I had so much fun talking to Tay Zonday for an hour

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I really think that it makes more sense to spread out with more, smaller bonuses. Spend the same money on more players. In the draft, bonuses and pick position barely correlate with major league success, and these kids are two years younger.

Jeremy_N
Jeremy_N

@DBrim it would seem to me that in the unpredictable world of prospects it would be best to carpet bomb a wide range of prospects as opposed to deciding 1 prospect is definitely going to make it.