Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits an RBI single to bring in the tying run in the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Dodger Stadium on April 9. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
There’s a point in every major leaguer’s career when he either figures it out and sticks, or he wanders into obscurity. The way Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is playing right now, he’ll be sticking around for awhile.
Gordon turned 26 years old today, and he’s been celebrating since the season started. Entering Tuesday, he’s tied for fifth in the National League with his .355 batting average, and he’s tied for the league lead with 10 stolen bases.
Not a bad start for a player who, before this year, spent the last three in an elevator going up and down between triple-A and the big leagues.
“It takes a little bit for some people,” says Gordon. “Some people get it quick, and some people don’t, you just gotta continue to learn and continue to get better.”
He'll never be mistaken for yasiel Puig, but thecadded weight Gordon, whose real name is Devaris, has put on could be why he's more confident as a player. Last season he reported to camp at about 160 pounds. The Dodgers media guide for this season has him listed at 172. Now, the guy who barely looks old enough to vote is taking early batting practice sporting a Superman T-shirt.
It could also be Gordon's acceptance, albeit begrudgingly, of the position change from short to second base.
“To see the confidence in him is just great, and he should be very proud of what he’s done” says Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire. “In one winter things have clicked and everybody’s very excited for him.”
McGwire says Gordon has started to figure out what’s going to make him successful offensively: make contact, hit the ball on the ground, and use what he has above most players - blazing speed.
The son of former Major League pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon has incorporated that nickname into his game own on the base paths.
“He’s a threat every time he comes up to the plate and it’s something that we’ve really needed, it’s a nice little spark,” says McGwire.
In 2012, Gordon finished eighth in the NL with 32 stolen bases, and he did it in only 87 games.
Gordon says he didn’t workout any differently this past off-season, and his off the field routine is still the same: a lot of sleep, chillin’ with family, and staying out of trouble. He says he’s just reaping the rewards of his effort.
"I'm putting in the right work, listening to the coaches, and trying to trust in the process that they have for me," he says.
Gordon, and his alter ego "Skinng Swag", has become quite popular with his nearly 60 thousand Twitter followers. While he has fought his way through a couple of rough seasons, Gordon is not as skinny, but he’s still got his swag.