What to make of Dee’s hot start
SAN FRANCISCO — The hits keep coming and coming for Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon. When you’re hot, you don’t seek to figure out why. You tend to simply ignore logic and ride the wave as long as you can.
Rightfully, Gordon is doing just that. The 27-year-old is having fun. He’s relaxed, motivated and energized. And by the way, he’s also riding a 12-game hitting streak, and has raised his average to a mind-boggling .437 with a .461 on-base percentage. His BABIP is a starting .491.
For those into advanced analytics, Gordon’s 2.2 WAR (according to Fangraphs) is tops in the Majors, a tick above Mike Trout (2.1). Gordon’s teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Adeiny Hechavarria each have a 1.0 WAR, ranking 33rd and 35th, respectively in the Majors.
When a player is this hot, the obvious response is this isn’t “sustainable.” Obviously, it’s not. No one is suggesting Gordon is going to be the first player since Ted Williams to bat .400. But a sustainable .491 BABIP or a .437 batting average isn’t the point here.
The only “sustainable” stat that really matters with Gordon is games played. Keeping him healthy, and as fresh as possible, is the priority. Because if the speedster is not wearing down, chances are he will be productive at the top of the order.
The point of health was magnified in Thursday’s 7-2 Miami win at San Francisco. Gordon tweaked his right leg muscle while dragging his toe across home plate in the ninth inning. Gordon was out of the lineup on Friday, as a precaution.
“The play at the plate, the slide, no slide,” general manager Dan Jennings said. “We’re making sure it doesn’t lead into something. It’s precautionary to make sure it doesn’t lead into something.”
Projected statistics and advanced numbers are indicators. They are hardly guaranteed numbers. Keep in mind, PECOTA predicted Gordon would appear in 126 games, bat .266 with a .312 on-base percentage.
Before the season started, the number the Marlins wanted to see Gordon reach was simple — be at or above a .350 on-base percentage. If he can do that, the thinking is he will score more than 100 runs. With a .326 on-base percentage with the Dodgers last year, the speedster scored 92 runs.
If Gordon tops 100 runs, it will be a very productive season.
In order to reach that number, Gordon foremost must stay in the lineup. Miami manager Mike Redmond took some heat for giving his second baseman his first day off last Sunday at home in the series finale against the Phillies. The Marlins had already won the first two of the series, and the timing was right to give Gordon a breather, especially with a 10-game, road trip to follow.
The Marlins ended up losing that game to the Phillies, but Gordon hasn’t slowed down since being back in the lineup first at Washington and now at San Francisco.
Gordon has game-changing speed. But he’s also slender in building, listed at 5-foot-10, 170-pounds. The dog days of summer are ahead. Playing at Marlins Park, with its retractable roof, should help keep him fresh.
But Gordon also has to play smart. In the ninth inning on Thursday night, he appeared to tweak his right ankle or leg while scoring — standing up — on a close play at the plate.
Afterwards, Gordon noted it wasn’t a smart decision, and that he should have slid.
Eventually, Gordon’s numbers will drop. But if the speedster can avoid nagging ailments, chances are he will finish with a career-best season.
— Joe Frisaro