2011 Los Angeles Dodgers Season Review: Shortstop

Dee Gordon

Dee Gordon’s season was much like the picture you see above: up and down, up and down. Beginning the year in AAA and just an injury or two away from the show, the inevitable happened and Gordon made his way to the bigs. Coming in with a reputation as a contact hitter with speed to burn and a questionable glove, Gordon lived up admirably to that rep.

After slashing .333/.373/.410 with a .366 wOBA in AAA Albuquerque, Flash hit .304/.325/.362 with a .314 wOBA in 233 plate appearances with the big boys. He walked in just 3% of his plate appearances, but on the bright side only struck out 11.6% of the time, allowing himself the opportunity to beat out ground balls (which he hit 55.9% of the time) for hits with that blazing speed of his.

Gordon was successful on 24 of his 31 stolen base attempts, and considering he’s never going to hit for power (2011 MLB ISO of just .058, and a professional best of .100 in rookie ball back in 2008) Dee will have to improve upon that 77.4% success rate on the basepaths to make his incredible speed a positive. The ability to steal bases is one thing; being able to steal them at an efficient rate is something else entirely.

In the field, Gordon was capable of the spectacular play, but also the simple mistakes that often plague shortstops with great arms. Dee started 54 games at short, and to put it mildly, was bad with the glove. His UZR/150 was an astonishingly terrible -21.5, and that – combined with the lack of plate discipline and power – led to a WAR of just 0.6.

Gordon’s season can be nicely divided in two with the All-Star break serving as the divider. Pre-break, Gordon hit just .232/.250/.280/.530, but post-break he showed that adjustments were made, as he hit .345/.367/.408/.776. The late surge included by far his best month as a pro, a white-hot September that saw Dee mash at a .372/.398/.451/.850 rate. September also saw improvements in his pitch recognition, plate discipline (9:5 K:BB after starting with an abysmal 18:2 mark), and his ability to drive the ball, as he smacked 8 extra-base hits after beginning the month with just 3.

All in all, it was a solid rookie campaign for Gordon. He did battle multiple shoulder injuries that curtailed the ample playing time he was given, but we saw the tools – the speed, the great arm, and the energy that mainstream pundits will talk so much about.

If Gordon can steal bases at a higher rate of success and get himself on base more often by drawing walks at a loftier clip, all the while improving his glove, he could be a huge positive factor going forward from atop the Dodger lineup. Barring anything unforeseen, 2012 will see Gordon manning short and hitting leadoff, and if nothing else, we know it will always be entertaining when Devaris Strange-Gordon is up to bat or has a play to make in the field.

Jamey Carroll

Carroll has already been covered in previous incarnations of the Season Review, but to quickly review, here are his numbers at short in the time he filled in for his injured comrades.

.304/.366/.357/.723 in 66 games, a 27/21 K/BB mark, and a -6.2 UZR/150 in the field in over 500 innings.

Rafael Furcal

When healthy, Rafael Furcal is a dynamic player, possessing a good eye at the plate, speed, the ability to successfully steal bags, a bit of pop, and a gun for an arm in the field. Unfortunately, in his time in Los Angeles, he was rarely healthy for an extended period of time, battling an array of maladies.

Furcal averaged just about 103 games a season in his six years in L.A., and even his unfortunate attraction to injury was a tad bit overblown. He actually played in 138 games or more 3 times, and he didn’t injure himself in idiotic ways (hello, Jason Repko). However, it is undeniable that his true impact was not felt over the last couple of years, and that proved true in 2011 as he only played in 37 games before a trade that shipped him to St. Louis in exchange for minor league outfielder Alex Castellanos.

Furcal leaves Los Angeles with a line of .283/.351/.406/.757 in just over 2800 plate appearances in blue. So long, Raffy.

The Three Stooges

Justin Sellers, Juan Uribe, and Aaron Miles combined to start 20 games at short, with Sellers flashing an impressive glove – a 28.2 UZR/150 – in 151.2 innings at the position.

About Greg Zakwin

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