Even with all the money the Dodgers ownership apparently possesses, the one position that left a question mark following the 2013 season was that of second base.
The Dodgers elected not to pick up the option for Mark Ellis. They opted to try to negotiate a lower number, which Ellis would not take and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The team used some of this endless supply of funds and inked Cuban Alex Guerrero to a four-year, $28 million deal. Added to the mix to win the starting nod were free agents Justin Turner and Chone Figgins.
Heading into this spring, it was a four-way competition for the job: Guerrero, Turner, Figgins and Dee Gordon. The organization felt Guererro needed a little more seasoning before becoming their everyday second baseman, a shortstop in Cuba. That’s where most MLB scouts had Guerrero tabbed to play. Turner and Figgins made the 25-man roster, but in the end, Gordon got the nod.
He’s done nothing but back up Don Mattingly‘s choice. And if you’re wondering, yes, I am completely aware that we are only 13 games into the Dodgers schedule.
It may seem that we are falling into a Dee Gordon lovefest, but so far into this season, he’s earned every bit of the love.
In LA’s 13 games, Gordon has been the starter at second for 10. When Gordon has played as a second baseman, he owns a triple slash of .385/.444/.513. Add a wOBA of .418 and wRC+ of 168 under those same parameters. It is unrealistic to expect him to continue to perform at those levels. Who would since Gordon has never posted a season with a OPS+ or wRC+ over 100.
After his four swipes last night, he leads all of baseball with nine steals. He was fourth heading into last night’s game.
No one will ever confuse Gordon as being Gold Glove caliber. He can make an outstanding play one minute and then make a routine throw into the stands on the very next play. If there is one area the Dodgers will miss Ellis, it’s in the field.
Last season, Ellis was a finalist for the Gold Glove for NL second basemen and accounted a DRS of 12 and a UZR of 5.4. As a team, Dodgers second basemen had a DRS of -2 and a UZR of -4.7. The average for all of MLB’s second sackers was -2 and 0.2, respectively.
Now that we have that groundwork laid, Gordon owns a DRS of -2 and UZR of -1.4. Primarily used as a shortstop, he didn’t see action at second until last season, and that was for all of 3.2 innings. While in the minors, he played 20 of his 493 games at second. He still has ways to go. In essence, he’s learning on the fly. As he continues to put time in, he should improve.
Moving forward, there will be questions. How long will he hold the starting job? When will Guerrero be ready? What will happen to Gordon once Guerrero is ready?
If Gordon can produce offensively more than he has displayed in the past and continue to show improvement in the field, that would certainly benefit the Dodgers. Guerrero would have more time to learn the position as a minor leaguer and be more ahead of the curve.
And on down the line, prove to be a valuable asset for the club.