Los Angeles Dodgers’ All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon leads the Majors in stolen bases with 59. Typically, Gordon was swiping bags by going head-first into second base.
However, Gordon is in the process of shifting away from his tendency and relying on a feet-first slide. According to J.P. Hoornstra of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Gordon said the change was due to health and competitive advantages:
It’s about safety and being able to (steal a base) in the long-term, and being called safe more,” he said.
In July of the 2012 season, Gordon suffered a dislocated thumb when he slid head-first in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. The injury didn’t necessarily deter him from ever going head-first again, but it certainly serves as a reminder of what danger can come from doing so.
Gordon still is improving the slide as he has been caught stealing multiple times since making the transition. He expressed his issues with learning to slide feet-first:
I didn’t know that when I was sliding I leaned back and I couldn’t see the base,” Gordon said. “That’s why I was missing it. It’s like hitting something small. Now you see the next day, I slide and I catch (the base) and I stay there.”
Dodgers’ first base coach Davey Lopes is helping Gordon improve his feet-first slide and believes the second baseman will eventually make the transition:
He’ll either get to the point where he’s doing equally as well (sliding foot-first and head-first) or he’s doing one better than the other,” Lopes said. I think his success rate will increase.”
Gordon leads Billy Hamilton by four stolen bases for the Major League lead and he has just one thus far in September, though manager Don Mattingly has sat him in two games. The Dodgers have 16 regular season games for Gordon to add to his total and be crowned the stolen base champion.
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