As news broke yesterday about the suspension of former Dodgers 2nd baseman Dee Gordon, most fans were probably as shocked as I was. Dee Gordon? The skinny, quick, 165 lbs Dee Gordon? On PEDs? It appears so, yes.
Before we get into the possible ramifications of Gordon’s actions, let’s look at his past numbers, both with the Dodgers, and after leaving.
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Gordon first came up in 2011 and impressed with his numbers. He batted .304 and stole 24 bases in 56 games, and the expectations were high for him entering 2012. However, he struggled in his sophomore year, batting only .228, and really had issues on the defensive end, committing 18 errors while playing shortstop. The Dodgers were forced to send him back to AAA, where he’d stay for most of the next year and a half.
Gordon would get another shot with the club in the spring of 2014, this time at 2nd base, where he primarily played during his return to the minors. He eventually won the full time job at 2nd, and his play really took off during the 1st half of the season, earning him an All-Star selection. His numbers declined a bit in the 2nd half, but he still finished the year with a .289/.326/.378 slash line, led the league in steals, and showed vast improvement on the defensive end, exhibiting a far better feel for 2nd base than shortstop.
It appeared that the Dodgers had found their 2nd baseman and leadoff hitter for the foreseeable future.
To the Marlins
That was until the new front office traded Gordon to the Miami Marlins before the start of the 2015 season in exchange for a package of players.
The Dodgers received:
- Andrew Heaney (traded for Howie Kendrick,)
- Chris Hatcher
- Kiki Hernandez
- Austin Barnes in return.
It was a bold move that many questioned at the time. But some didn’t. They believed that the Dodgers were selling high on Gordon after one good year, and the increased depth actually improved the team. What were the chances that he was going to replicate his productive 2014 campaign?
As it turns out, the chances were pretty good. Gordon not only continued to produce as he had in 2014, but actually improved his numbers. His year with Miami last season was nothing short of incredible. He won:
- the batting title
- led the league in stolen bases
- won a Gold Glove
That made him only the 2nd player in MLB history to accomplish that feat in the same season. He was also selected to another All-Star game. Safe to say, he was probably not a one-year wonder.
Then came yesterday’s news. Now, things have changed, no doubt. Not only in how we evaluate the trade of Gordon out of L.A, but his overall image as a player.
First, the trade. As I mentioned earlier, some fans liked it, while other didn’t. Personally, I was in the latter category. I understand increased depth, but I’m not sure it’s’ worth giving up one of the top two players in baseball at his position. At the time of the trade, Gordon was 26 years old, and under team control for another several years, making him a pretty good bargain.
In return, the Dodgers got a steady, but aging, veteran 2nd baseman, a good utility guy, a middle reliever who’s showed some inconsistency, and a catching prospect who the jury’s still out on. That’s all fine and dandy, but I’ll take the 2-time All-Star who continues to improve, and one of the best lead-off hitters in the game.
But I digress. That was then. What about now?
Well, many who were on the other side of the debate were sure quick to take to the cosmic world of social media to proclaim a big “I told you so,” as if they somehow predicted a PED violation for Gordon. So, to them, this news all but reaffirmed their position. But even if you’re like me, and didn’t like the trade initially, it’s hard to say that this doesn’t change the perspective at least a bit.
And that doesn’t have much to do with the suspension itself. An 80 game suspension is only about half a season, and Gordon will return sometime this year. It’s more about what the suspension represents. A cheater. A liar. A fraud. Most fans don’t like a player like that associated with their team.
Which bring up the last question here; how will this change Gordon’s overall image and how fans appreciate him? Moreover, does that matter at all?
Dodgers Nation recently ran a poll on twitter, asking whether the news about Gordon’s suspension changes how you view him. So far, 75% have voted “yes.”
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) April 29, 2016
That’s a considerable amount of fans who certainly seem to have little tolerance for PED use. And it’s not like Gordon was a hated player beforehand either. Even if you agreed with his trade, most still liked Gordon as a player. He brought energy to the game, and seemed like a level-headed guy who enjoyed playing every day. He received a big ovation in his return to Dodgers Stadium last year, and most fans appreciated his time with the club.
But that may all be gone now. Although Gordon claims to have took the banned substance unknowingly, that defense holds little water to most. It’s hard for fans to give the benefit of the doubt anymore when it comes to this issue. We’ve seen it too much. And it doesn’t seem like ignorance should be any reason anymore. If anything, it seems like player should go out of their way to ensure anything they take is legit.
I don’t care if it’s Claritin, Tylenol, or chew-able Flintstone vitamins you’re taking… just get them checked out before you take them.
— Mr_Matt_Beltran (@Mr_Matt_Beltran) April 29, 2016
Ultimately, many fans will forgive PED violators, especially if those players are a star for your team. Gordon will surely be supported by the Marlins fan base when he returns, just as Brewers’ fans aren’t booing Ryan Braun these days. And Dodgers fans aren’t any different. We all welcomed Manny Ramirez back after his PED suspension, and I don’t know anyone who still holds Yasmani Gandal’s suspension over him.
But I guess it’s a lot harder to forgive opposing players.
I like Dee Gordon as a player and wish him nothing but the best upon his return. We all make mistakes, and this was a costly one, no doubt. Nevertheless, this is a black eye for him that could haunt his entire career, at least to some degree. It may gradually diminish over time, as we continue to see players get suspended, and this becomes all too routine. But it will likely be remembered by a majority of fans, and unfortunately for Gordon, many might not ever view him the same.