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What the heck is wrong with Dee Gordon? The slim son of former reliever Tom Gordon got his feet wet last season and showed us all that his future can be extremely bright. In 224 at-bats after an early June call-up, Gordon hit .304 with no homers, 11 RBIs and, most importantly, 24 stolen bases.
The 24-year-old speedster has the quickness to be a Michael Bourn-like commodity on your roster, possessing the raw speed to put up 60 thefts in a full season. Gordon swiped 30 bags in just 73 games at multiple minor league stops last year and totaled 39 in 133 contests at Class AA in 2010.
His wheels stand out as practically his only glaring rotisserie gift - albeit a strong one. But as are most youngsters, Gordon was vulnerable to regression after his strong showing last year, especially after his output in the season's final 31 days (.372 average).
Gordon never struggled to hit for a high average in the minor leagues, but the leap to the bigs can be an entirely different beast. A poor walk rate in his professional career (4.1 percent) and strikeout rate (14.5 percent) have caught up to him this year.
The stolen bases won't come if he can't get on base, and he's struggled to reach first; Gordon has a slash line of .208/.250/.262 in 160 plate appearances up to this point. He's of the Juan Pierre mold; you'd be lucky if he topped five dingers over a full season, and his entire value rests on his ability to reach base.
The Los Angeles Dodgers decided to give Gordon a little R&R over the weekend, and Don Mattingly even suggested his handy tee work last week in order to get Gordon hitting again. The good news: Donnie Baseball doesn't see any glaring mechanical differences in Gordon's swing from last year to this, and the skipper thinks it's more of a mental adjustment that must be made.
Mattingly also suggested that the reason for giving Gordon a break was so that he could sit back and slow down the game. He looks overmatched at the dish with the task of being the leadoff man in his first full season, which isn't all that surprising.
Gordon returned to the starting lineup Tuesday but was slated in the eighth spot. Managers often move their struggling stars down in the lineup as a way to get them better pitches to hit - it worked Tuesday as Gordon went 2-for-4 and scored a run. He was seen working on his bunting last Friday, likely finding better ways to reach base in order to utilize his scintillating speed on the base paths.
The bottom line here: Gordon must be more selective at the plate if he's to return to the leadoff spot long term. Thankfully, he's still young, so there is plenty of time for improvement in his batting eye. The way he swings the lumber, he's really suited for only the top spot or in front of the pitcher, and the Blue want him creating havoc and being driven in by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
Unless you're really hurting in the SB column of your fantasy standings, maybe you keep Gordon riding the pine until he displays some noticeable adjustments. The Dodgers will return him to leadoff when they feel he's right, and at that point, you can probably follow suit. If his struggles stretch into the summer, there's the threat of a demotion, so fantasy owners will take him hitting eighth for now.
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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