Baseball traditionalists fancy Dee Gordon.
He led the league in hitting and stolen bases last season.
Baseball sabermetricians aren’t as keen on him.
He doesn’t walk and hit for power.
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“In the baseball world, I [stink],” Gordon said. “It’s the truth. It’s seriously the truth.”
Yeah, but what about the fact Gordon became the first player since Jackie Robinson to win the National League batting and stolen base titles the same year? And the second ever — EVER — to win the batting and stolen base crowns, lead the league in hits, and win a Gold Glove, with Ichiro Suzuki being the other?
“It’s a fluke,” Gordon said. “No one thinks I play baseball good. These last two years, in baseball minds, it’s a fluke.”
Suffice to say Gordon, walks around with a chip on his shoulder, feeling there’s always something to prove. If the analytics folks feel his glossiest statistics disguise his true weaknesses as a player, so be it.
It used to anger him. Now?
“It makes me laugh,” he said.
If there were doubters, Gordon got the last laugh in 2015 when his .333 batting average and 58 stolen bases led the league. Throw in his first Gold Glove as the Marlins’ second baseman, and the debate should have ended, right?
Clearly the Marlins weren’t unhappy with Gordon. They saw fit to reward him with a five-year, $50 million contract.
But Gordon knows he hasn’t satisfied the numbers crunchers — and might not ever.
Sure, he hit .333, beating out Bryce Harper for the title on the final day of the season. But what about his .359 on-base percentage, which was precisely 101 percentage points below Harper, the league MVP?
Want to know how many other full-time players in the entire history of major league baseball hit at least .333 and finished with an on-base percentage below .360? Just one: Mickey Rivers in 1980.
Gordon doesn’t walk much — less than 4 percent of his plate appearances.
“Who is going to walk me?” he asked. “If you’re on the mound, with a 3-2 pitch in your hand, what you going to throw me? A fastball to make me hit my way on. Quite simple.”
Gordon isn’t going to beat you with the long ball, either. Only four of his 205 hits last season left the park. And that was a career-high for him.
“They don’t appreciate it because I don’t hit homers,” he said. “But a guy who hits .240 and hits 15 homers is better than me.”
So what’s a player to do?
Well, for one thing, he’s not quitting or changing his style.
“If you don’t have anything to prove, you need to quit,” Gordon said. “I’m 170 pounds. Because I’m small, I don’t hit for power. Don’t walk. It’s my game. They will send me home if I don’t play with a chip on my shoulders.”
Already, Gordon is hearing how he’ll go back to being a .280 singles hitter with a low on-base percentage to boot, how he’ll be unable to carbon copy his 2015 season in the one coming up.
“I’m going to regress,” Gordon said, parroting his critics. “ ‘He’s going to regress next year. Watch. This year is the year.’ It’s my constant battle.”
You’d think Gordon might be content with winning a batting title and all the other hardware he accumulated.
“That was a personal goal that I achieved,” he said of his .333 mark. “I had a day or two to reflect on it. And now it’s over. It’s gone now. I’m [back at] zero. Now I [stink] again. It’s the truth!”
Tom Koehler was struck by a comebacker below the right elbow in a backfield game on Monday. But the Marlins feel it’s nothing serious and are listing the starting pitcher as day-to-day. ... The Marlins were rained out Monday for the third time in four days.
Tuesday: Marlins RHP Paul Clemens at New York Mets TBA, 1:10 p.m., Port St. Lucie.
Wednesday: Marlins RHP Edwin Jackson at St. Louis Cardinals RHP Michael Wacha, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter.