During a 2011 season filled with family feuds and fiscal woes, rookie shortstop Dee Gordon is giving Dodgers fans something to smile about on days when Matt Kemp's not cracking homers or Clayton Kershaw's not on the mound. The 23-year-old is batting near .300 and has nabbed 17 bases in 21 tries since his June call-up, hinting at the talent that led Baseball America to rank him as the 26th-best prospect in the game this past spring.
However, that's not to say that Gordon, who didn't play baseball until his senior year of high school and had just one year at an NAIA school before being drafted, is a refined talent. Flash's son might be a blur on the bases and a high-contact hitter, but he also has just two walks in 145 MLB plate appearances. In fact, no hitter with 100+ plate appearances has taken ball four less often than Gordon. That's because he's swinging at everything between Chavez Ravine and Sacramento.
First, take a look at the average swing rate by pitch location for a left-handed hitter:
Overall, lefties offer at 45 percent of pitches thrown, including 28 percent of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. Now, look at Gordon's swing rate:
Dee is swinging at slightly over 58 percent of pitches seen overall, and a whopping 47 percent of pitches tossed out of the zone. Both of those are big league highs.
With superb speed and a penchant for making contact, Gordon could be the sort of hitter who keeps his average near .300. But, with a 5-foot-11, 150 pound (listed) frame that conjures up images of Urkel, he's got about as much chance of hitting for power as Frank McCourt has of becoming Bud Selig's BFF. For Gordon to become a true top-of-the-order dynamo and get on base at a good clip, he'll need to start walking more than once a month.