In his fourth season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dee Gordon has solidified both the second base position and leadoff spot in the lineup. Thus far, Gordon has accomplished what not many believed he could — start at second base and be successful.
Alex Guerrero was signed in the off-season and though he was accustomed to playing shortstop, the Dodgers envisioned him at second base. Gordon spent the winter playing center field, but used a strong Spring Training to win the job at second and hasn’t looked back.
According to Lyle Spencer and Michael Lananna of MLB.com, first base coach Davey Lopes gave Gordon tough love back in spring:
He knew there was an opening [at second],” Lopes said.”I told him this is your opportunity. Close the door. Here it is. I gave it to him straight. ‘You want that job? Take it. Make them like you.’
Like Guerrero, Gordon had spent his career at shortstop and the transition to second base was met with uncertainty. The 26-year-old has committed five errors this season, but has also made a number of impressive plays. Lopes also shared his surprise at how quickly Gordon has adapted to his new position:
I was really surprised how quickly he picked it up [at second]. He constantly works at his craft. Turning the double play from the blind side at second, your back to the runner, is completely different from at shortstop. He constantly goes out there and does his work. He’s a gym rat — and he has the instincts. He always wanted to be a shortstop, but he’s done a terrific job at second. I can’t say enough good things about Dee.”
Along with playing well defensively, Gordon has also swung the bat much better than in season’s past and holds a .331 on-base percentage. The ability to reach safely from the leadoff spot has been key to the Dodgers’ ability to score runs as Gordon has developed into a terror on the basepaths.
Heading into Monday’s game with the Chicago White Sox, Gordon leads MLB with 34 stolen bases, which is 14 more than second place Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton. Behind six multi-steal games, Gordon tied a franchise record with 21 stolen bases in May.
Despite the newfound success this season, Gordon has remained humble. After bouncing in and out of the minors throughout his career, Gordon appears to have at last settled in to a role with the Dodgers.
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