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The overrated, underrated Dee Gordon

Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Flash Jr.

Dee Gordon preparing for launch, or sliding into second base.
Dee Gordon preparing for launch, or sliding into second base.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In Sunday's loss to the New York Mets, Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon went 2-4 to raise his 2015 season batting line to .377/.405/.444.  His wOBA for the year sits at .369.  He also possessed a .434 BABIP in only 217 plate appearances entering Sunday.

Gordon has oft been a debated player between the old and new schools of baseball thought. One side sees his speed and high batting averages this year and last as evidence that he is a star player - the other sees empty batting averages and a career .303 wOBA in 1500 plate appearances.

For a good chunk of the last year and a half, I've fallen into the latter category, dismissing Gordon as a flash in the pan who would soon turn back into the mediocre player he had been from 2011-2013. But the more I watch Gordon play, I'm beginning to realize the err of my ways - to a certain extent.  He is not a star, but he's no slouch either.

Throughout his career, Gordon has put up a .342 BABIP, and this is in a large enough sample size to say with some confidence that Gordon can sustain a higher-than-average BABIP. For the remainder of this article we'll operate under the assumption that .342 is Gordon's true BABIP skill.

In terms of this season, we can expect Gordon's BABIP to regress, but how far?

Using a very simple regression model, we find that if Gordon went back to a .342 BABIP hitter tomorrow and ended the season with 650 PA as he did in 2014, he would finish the season with a .372 BABIP for the year.

Like Murphy Powell wrote here two weeks ago, much of Gordon's success this season has in fact been fuelled by luck but at the same time he does appear to be a much better hitter now than he was than in his first three seasons.

Even if Gordon never does acquire the patience to begin drawing the number of walks to make him a truly elite offensive player, his current skill set is good enough for him to be an above-average major league starter - something teams have paid handsomely for in each of the past several offseasons.

With a roughly average bat and glove, Gordon's elite speed and baserunning ability are a combination that he leverages into becoming a truly useful player.  While it's doubtful he'll continue to lead all hitters in fWAR at the end of the year, it is worth remembering that Chase Utley and Neil Walker were the only National League second basemen to be worth more than Gordon in 2014.

Even though his success this year is mostly luck-based, we're getting close to the point where we can call him one of the better second basemen in the game. Sure, he's not without his deficiencies, but which player isn't?  I'm sure even Mike Trout isn't amazing at everything. With a few exceptions, most any team would love to have a 3-4 win player like Gordon on the roster.

Joe Vasile writes about the Mets at Mets 360 and is the Assistant GM and Radio Broadcaster for the Fayetteville SwampDogs of the Coastal Plain League.

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