The Marlins are off to a crawling start.
Not the team’s fastest player.
Dee Gordon is the lone bright spot on a Marlins roster that hasn’t shined much anywhere else in the season’s early going.
With a .389 average that ranks fourth in the National League and an on-base percentage of .404 that ranks fifth in the majors among leadoff hitters, Gordon has given the Marlins everything they hoped for when they acquired the swift second baseman in an offseason trade with the Dodgers.
Never miss a local story.
“He’s been the only one who’s been consistent for us, pretty much,” said left fielder Christian Yelich.
Said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria: “He’s been an owner’s dream.”
While little has gone right for the slumping Marlins so far, Gordon has done little wrong.
Yet Gordon refuses to acknowledge that he’s off to a strong start when the team has a whole has done so poorly, going 3-10 — the second-worst record in the majors.
“This isn’t about no individual,” Gordon said with conviction.
And it’s not.
Gordon’s stellar beginning has largely gone to waste because those hitting behind him in the lineup haven’t done their part to back him up. While Gordon is reaching base, he hasn’t scored all that often. Half of his eight runs scored came in one game.
Otherwise, he has often been left standing on the bases.
Against the Mets on Saturday, Gordon became only the 10th player in Marlins history to record five hits in a nine-inning game. Two of those hits were a direct result of his speed, bang-bang infield singles.
But he never once scored.
“He’s done his job. We haven’t done ours,” said Yelich, who hits directly behind Gordon and is mired in a hitting slump, one in which he struck out seven times total on Saturday and Sunday.
Giancarlo Stanton, though he homered twice against the Mets in a series in which the Marlins were swept in four games, hasn’t been tearing it up either at the plate.
Only one regular other than Gordon — Martin Prado — is hitting better than .270.
While no one expects Gordon to maintain his wickedly hot pace the rest of the season, they do feel he’ll continue to provide a major spark with his disruptive speed. And he said he thinks he’ll enjoy a better all-around season — from start to finish — than he did last year with the Dodgers when he tailed off in the second half.
“I feel more comfortable this year about it,” Gordon said. “Last year, I was, like, ‘Oh gosh, I’m off to such a good start. I’ve never done this before. Is it going to end? What’s going to happen?’ ”
That’s the result of not only playing his full season in the majors, but also getting a late start on baseball in general. He didn’t start playing until he was a junior in high school. So much was new to him last season.
But after a successful first half with the Dodgers that landed him a spot on the All-Star team, he struggled to get on base in the second half, going from a .344 on-base clip the first half to a meager .300 rate the second.
Gordon thinks he knows the reason.
“Last year, the second half, I was told to walk more,” he said. “And [pitchers] aren’t going to walk me. I realized that. I still hit well the second half. But I could have been better because I was sacrificing at-bats to try to get walked. I was striking out looking and and getting in bad counts. So [the patient approach] kind of didn’t help me out.”
Now Gordon has gone back to being more aggressive with his bat, and the early returns couldn’t be better.
Reeling from a four-game sweep to the New York Mets, manager Mike Redmond’s job may be in jeopardy as the team heads to Philadelphia for a series with the Phillies that could dictate his fate.
According to sources who have heard rumblings, Redmond is on the hot seat.
Sources said Loria is not happy with the team’s play, and Giancarlo Stanton’s post-game comments Friday suggesting the team lacked “fire,” while in no way directed at the more laid-back style of Redmond, might have had the unintended effect of creating that impression.
Loria has always had a strong preference for fiery managers. Jack McKeon fit that bill, and Loria courted the demonstrative Bobby Valentine, as well as hiring Ozzie Guillen, for those reasons.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Dan Haren (1-0, 2.08 ERA) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jerome Williams (0-1, 4.09), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.76) at Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (0-2, 5.00), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.