Tucson, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon (9) steals second during the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kino Veterans Memorial. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
On the off chance that you don't yet know much about the dangerously exciting Dee Gordon, rest assured, you're about to.
You've probably at least heard of Dee Gordon. He was a fairly high draft pick in 2008, he was ranked the No. 46 prospect in baseball after 2009 by Baseball America, he was ranked the No. 26 prospect in baseball after 2010 by Baseball America, and he got into 56 games with the Dodgers last season. Plus, he's generated a lot of attention this spring.
Yet maybe you don't know a whole lot about him. That might seem unforgivable to Dodgers fans, but it wouldn't be unforgivable to me. Gordon did play only 56 games in the majors last season. He played them for a team that wasn't in the race, and over those 56 games, he had a .686 OPS. He was a good prospect in the minors, but he wasn't a can't-miss prospect in the minors. If Gordon's just a young player you've heard of and nothing more, I get it.
But Dee Gordon's about to be more than that, to you and to everybody. Allow me to bring you up to speed. If you already know a lot about Dee Gordon, you know it's not a coincidence that I just used the word "speed".
I'm going to highlight one sequence of events from the Dodgers' afternoon game against the White Sox on Monday. I'm tempted to say that it's Dee Gordon in a nutshell, but of course that isn't true; Gordon does four things here, and Gordon is capable of doing more than four things. But a less-aware writer might say that it's Dee Gordon in a nutshell.
We pick up the action in the bottom of the sixth, with the White Sox ahead 3-2 and Gordon leading off against John Danks.
That is a masterful first-pitch bunt single. Nobody had a chance at a play, and once the second baseman had the ball in his hand, Gordon was steps away from the bag. Gordon was recently timed at 3.79 seconds from home to first. On its own, we don't know what to make of that, but it seems fast, and indeed officials agree that it is fast.
There are two events here in one oversized .gif. The first is that Gordon advanced to second on a steal. The second is that Gordon advanced to third on an error. Maybe going from second to third wasn't that amazing, but Gordon caused all this. Gordon sprinted for second and wound up on third. John Danks was the guy on the mound and John Danks is left-handed. It's not easy to steal bases against left-handed pitchers.
Gordon scores on a sac fly. Nothing too remarkable. Lots of guys score on sac flies. But the fly wasn't that deep, and Gordon beat the throw with ease. That right fielder is Alex Rios, and the numbers suggest that Alex Rios has a dangerous arm. Gordon didn't care. All arms are the same to Dee Gordon.
Within five pitches, Dee Gordon bunted himself aboard, sprinted to second, sprinted to third, and scored on a moderate fly ball. Baseball people like to say that Dee Gordon makes things happen. Dee Gordon made things happen.
This isn't the most amazing Dee Gordon sequence of events, even of the month. This might be the most amazing Dee Gordon sequence of events of the month. But Monday was convenient. Monday, I wanted to write about Dee Gordon, and Monday, Dee Gordon created himself a run.
This is the kind of stuff that gets a player widespread attention in a hurry. In those 56 games with the Dodgers last season, Gordon stole 24 bases. This spring, Gordon leads baseball with ten stolen bases. People are talking like he could steal 60 or 70 in the season ahead. The more you watch Dee Gordon, the more you believe it.
Dee Gordon runs so fast he should be written in italics. Dee Gordon. That seems more sprinty, like he's always on the move. And running isn't all that Gordon can do. Joey Gathright could run. Gordon offers more offensive potential. He has outstanding bat control, as evidenced by his .304 batting average and 89-percent contact rate as a rookie. Gordon can put the ball in play and effectively turn infield grounders into extra-base hits.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Gordon's offensive potential is limited - he has seven career professional home runs - and he's unlikely to become a superstar. But as a shortstop who moves well in the field and on the basepaths, he should have a lot of value, and will probably convince writers and coaches that he has even more value than he actually does. He'll be described as a guy the numbers undersell, as a catalyst, as a spark plug, as an irreplaceable pinion.
Dee Gordon's going to make Dodgers games more exciting, and that's a ball club that could use the excitement. And now, I think, you're caught up on what Dee Gordon is, and what Dee Gordon will be. "Sensation" is probably the right word. Gordon probably won't be a statistical superstar, but he should get superstar attention and superstar love, because he's a lovable guy who's always doing something, like baseball's polar opposite of Jack Cust. Dee Gordon's the right player in the right market to become a household name. And quickly.