Many entered the year expecting Dee Gordon to be a tremendous option at shortstop. It was a fair expectation, given his speed and strong finish to the 2011 campaign (.372, 12 SB, 21 R in 113 AB in September). Unfortunately, while he has had his moments, overall it’s hard to call 2012 anything but a disappointment:
294 At Bats
.228 Batting Average (67 Hits)
1 Home Run
28 Stolen Bases
.278 On Base Percentage
.279 Slugging Percentage
.282 Batting Average on Balls in Play
It’s pretty obvious where the issues lie with Gordon, as he has done a terrible job getting on base. His 5.7% walk rate is far from what you’d want to see from a leadoff hitter, though it is about what we would’ve expected from him entering the year. He has never shown the ability to draw walks on a consistent basis in the minor leagues.
If we were expecting that, we should’ve been expecting a poor OBP right? To an extent, yes, but his average has been beyond poor and he should have the ability to post a significantly better number. First of all is the BABIP which, given his speed, is a very low mark. It’s not that he’s putting the ball in the air too much, as he does have a 60.2% groundball rate. It’s just that he’s not getting the hits.
Let’s just look at the BABIP of a few other players with impressive wheels this season:
- Mike Trout – .399
- Michael Bourn – .362
- Elvis Andrus – .350
- Starlin Castro – .336
That’s the type of number that you would be expecting from Gordon, meaning there is a lot of room for upside.
He also has posted a 19.2% strikeout rate, a major jump up from last year’s 11.6% mark. Over his minor league career he posted a 13.9% mark, so we would expect him to improve this number, at least slightly.
So, if he can improve the strikeout rate, even marginally, coupled with an improved BABIP and things should get significantly better. He’s already shown that when he gets on base he can really wreak havoc, leading the league with 28 SB despite struggling to get on base.
Things should also get better once Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier return to the lineup, because as he gets on base more and more he should also score significantly more runs.
We do have to keep a close eye on him, as he was forced from last night’s game in the ninth inning. If healthy, however, I wouldn’t shy away from him. Despite his early season struggles he has shown his upside and can single-handedly carry you in a category (with improved AVG and R as well).