I think the Gordon family used the nickname “Flash” one generation too early.
Dee Gordon has been one of the most valuable players in fantasy baseball so far in 2014. The Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman is currently the third highest player on ESPN’s player rater and he has a commanding lead atop MLB’s stolen base leaderboard, his 24 steals are nine more than any other player.
Gordon was a late-round pick in fantasy drafts this year — if he was even picked at all, he went undrafted in many leagues — and owners who took him were drafting him solely for his stolen base potential from a middle infield position, hoping he would at least hit well enough to maintain a spot somewhere in the Dodgers lineup.
We’re about a month and a half into the season and Gordon hasn’t just hit well enough to keep his job away from Alex Guerrero (the Dodgers’ Cuban prospect who was expected to be the teams starting second baseman), his .324 average entering Tuesday’s game is the 12th highest in MLB. Gordon had a career .256 average entering the season and many projection systems had him slated to hit somewhere in the .250-.260 range again this season (my own projections had him hitting .246).
What should we expect from Gordon moving forward?
The first — and most obvious — sign that regression should be in order is Gordon’s .379 BABIP. For his career Gordon does have an above-average .321 BABIP — and because of his truly elite speed he’s going to have opportunities to beat out what would typically be routine groundballs — so I don’t think we should expect it to regress to the league average (right around .300) but a regression back into the .320′s should certainly be expected, and that will directly lead to a steep decline in his batting average.
Second, Gordon can’t hit left-handed pitching to save his life and if he continues to struggle, he may very well end up finding himself in a platoon (and if he doesn’t his batting average will suffer). Gordon has a career .215/.255/.233 slash line against left-handed pitching and for the season his slash line against left-handers is .182/.182/.242. Gordon has a .900 OPS against right-handed pitching this season compared to just a .424 OPS against the southpaws.
Gordon may end up finding himself in a platoon role regardless because Guerrero is mashing in AAA and the Dodgers are paying him way too much money to toil away in the minor leagues. The Dodgers signed him to a four year/$28 million dollar contract this off-season and he’s currently hitting .337 with nine extra-base hits (including four home runs) in just 89 at-bats in AAA.
Guerrero is also crushing left-handed pitching, he has a .355/.394/.581 line against them this season and he would be an immediate upgrade over Gordon against lefties.
When it’s all said and done I expect Gordon to finish the season with an average in the .275-.285 range. I expect him to contribute nothing in the home run and RBI department (literally nothing when it comes to home runs, would not surprise me at all if he didn’t hit another one all year and if he does get another one I’d bet right now it’s an inside-the-parker); but I do expect him to be an above-average contributor in runs and even if he’s in a platoon role for the second half of the season he still has a legitimate shot to lead MLB in steals.
What should fantasy owners do with Gordon?
Gordon’s speed is going to keep him relevant in fantasy all season long, even if his batting average drops 70 points and he becomes a part-time player. Gordon is the type of player who can come in as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning and steal you two bases and score a run without even picking up a bat.
That being said, there’s no way Gordon keeps up his current production at the plate his overall numbers are going to regress. Therefore, his value will likely never be higher than it is right now which makes him a very strong sell-high candidate.
I would sell Gordon to fix any need I could on my team. Look, obviously it’d be nice to have a guy on your team steal 70 bases but steals are one of the easiest stats to fill through free agency and the void you could fill by shopping Gordon is likely going to be much harder to fix through free agency. Find the owner in your league who’s weakest in speed and use their weakness to your advantage.
CBSsports.com keeps track of every instance in which a player gets traded in a fantasy league. Within the last few days these Dee Gordon trades all happened:
- Dee Gordon + Pablo Sandoval for Evan Longoria
- Dee Gordon + Kyle Farnsworth for Prince Fielder
- Dee Gordon + Michael Morse for Troy Tulowitzki
- Dee Gordon for Matt Holliday
- Dee Gordon for Max Scherzer
- Dee Gordon for Ian Kinsler
- Dee Gordon for David Price
Dee Gordon is currently giving you the opportunity to advertise him as a guy who qualifies at both second base and shortstop, is hitting well over .300 and is on pace to steal 105 bases.
The opportunity is there to sell Dee Gordon for much more than he’s worth, it’s your job to make it happen.