Marlins Season Preview: Best Case Scenario for Dee Gordon

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Going into the off-season, second base was pretty low on the Miami Marlins wish list on places they felt they needed to upgrade at. The team made is clear that upgrades at first base and in the rotation were more important than a potential upgrade at second.

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It seemed like the team would be content going into spring training letting Enrique Hernandez and Donovan Solano compete for the second base job. That was until Dee Gordon came into the picture.

I have been pretty critical of the Dee Gordon trade, as I still feel the Marlins ended up giving away too much for a one tool player. That doesn’t mean I was against acquiring Dee Gordon altogether.

Gordon last season had a spectacular first half for the Dodgers, in his first full season as their starting second baseman.

He posted a .292/.344/.398 slash line with 113 wRC+. He stole 43 of his 64 bases in the first half and was caught just 9 times, a staggering 83% rate. Dee also walked in almost 7% of his plate appearances and struck out just 15% of the time. He collected 23 extra base hits in the first half.

In the second half, the wheels fell off for Dee. His .284/.300/.348 slash line with a 84 wRC+ was well below league average. He was just 21-of-31 in stolen bases, a less than stellar 68% in the second half. A walk rate of less than 2% made his batting average an empty number and collected just 13 extra base hits. Dee Gordon also saw his strikeout percentage rise to over 18%.

The silver lining, Gordon played a career of 148 games and posted a consistent BABIP number. His BABIP in the first half of the season was .344 and .348 in the second half.

If he can walk a bit more, he has a slight chance of keeping up his BABIP numbers from a season ago. That would certainly aid him in keeping a high average and a decent on base percentage. Both of those would lead to more opportunists for him to do what he does best, wreak havoc on bases.

Of all the projections for Dee Gordon, ZiPS projects him to be the best next year.

ZiPS Projection: .281/.326/.357, 92 wRC+, 1.7 zWAR

2014 Slash Line: .289/.329/.378, 101 wRC+, 3.1 fWAR

ZiPS also has Dee Gordon walking at a more respectable level, around the 6% mark, which is still below league average, but better than the 4.8% he posted last season. It also has Gordon posting a .339 BABIP and stealing 50 bases, the best marks of the three projection systems.

The best case scenario for the Marlins and Dee Gordon would be for Gordon to become a Pierre-lite player , as Dillon Murrell pointed out in his post on Sunday.

"So there are a number of similarities, but Gordon is more of a Pierre-lite if anything. He doesn’t have the same contact ability that Pierre had and doesn’t offer the same defensive contributions (at least for now). Gordon appears to have a slight edge in the baserunning department, but Pierre features a more complete package. Maybe the Marlins make a move that ends up bumping Gordon to the outfield, where he’ll have more value.For now, expecting Dee Gordon to be Juan Pierre just isn’t a reasonable expectation."

If Gordon can deliver a slash line similar to what ZiPS projects and he plays closer to the 650 plate appearances he made last season, he’ll be a little better than a league average player for the upcoming season. That would be a major improvement over what the Marlins got from second base last season.

Dee Gordon is a decent player and most Marlins fans will admit he will be somebody they’ll enjoy to watch this upcoming season.

The problem surrounding Dee Gordon now and in the future will always be the price tag the Marlins paid to acquire his services. Andrew Heaney for Dee Gordon straight up would have been a bad trade for the Marlins, but they ended up trading two prospects and a decent relief arm for Gordon and a pitcher whose best days are well behind him.

Next: Best Case Scenario: Michael Morse

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