With the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals meeting for a four-game series, it not only gave both teams their first look this season at their NLCS counterpart, but it’s also the first time Mark Ellis has faced his former team.
Ellis played a steady second base for the Dodgers in 2012 and 2013, then departed for the team that ended the Dodgers’ World Series hopes in 2013. Now 37, Ellis signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract with the Cardinals, which matches last season’s salary.
With Ellis no longer in the fold, the Dodgers were in search of answers at second base heading into Spring Training. There were rumblings they would make free agent Robinson Cano a substantial offer, but that never came to fruition.
Instead, Dee Gordon emerged as the team’s second baseman. He beat out Alex Guerrero and never looked back. With the former shortstop now settled in at second base, Ellis gave his vote of confidence for his former teammate, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
He works really hard and I’m happy for him,” Ellis said. “I think second base is a good spot for him. It’ll take a little pressure off in terms of defense and he can go out and be the dynamic guy he is on offense, steal bases and go out and score runs. That’s a credit to him. He’s so athletic. His speed is just unbelievable and he can change a game. He’s one of the special guys we have in our league.”
Gordon has not only filled the void defensively, he’s improved dramatically at the plate. Including Sunday’s game, Gordon is batting .295 with a .348 OBP; he also leads the Majors with 40 stolen bases.
Making the transition to second base hasn’t prove too difficult for Gordon, who has a .980 fielding percentage, which is good for 10th in the National League.
With the Dodgers in search of youth in their infield, Ellis wasn’t a high priority during free agency in a decision that appears to have worked out in the Dodgers’ favor.
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