Dodgers should give Dee Gordon upside edge over Chone Figgins

Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon takes part in batting practice at the team's spring-training facility in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 25. Gordon drove in a pair of runs in Monday's 7-3 Cactus League loss to the Oakland Athletics.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
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And in today’s installment of “what-if” we ask: If Chone Figgins and Dee Gordon are essentially the same player, wouldn’t you naturally go with the younger one?

Figgins and Gordon are both versatile, speedy types who have struggled to hit.

Figgins was a remarkable utility man for the Angels, playing multiple positions and stealing as many as 62 bases in a single season. But as a Mariner, he was something much less. After hitting a combined .185 in the 2011-2012 seasons, he was released and spent last year out of baseball.

Gordon was once the Dodgers’ top prospect, but he struggled defensively at shortstop and after hitting .304 his rookie year batted just .229 in parts of the last two seasons. Now they’re teaching him to play second and the outfield.


Monday, Gordon hit his second triple in two games, driving in a pair of runs in the Dodgers’ 7-3 loss to the Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. He started at second and Figgins at third, where he went hitless in three at-bats.

It’s understandable that Figgins would be in search of his swing after sitting out last season, but it can’t be overlooked he couldn’t hit his last two seasons with Seattle. And Figgins is 36.

Gordon is no longer some pup, but he’s a comparatively young 25 and still has plenty of upside. Figgins, a switch-hitter, can play third, short, second and the outfield. Gordon, a left-handed hitter, can play short, second and center.

The Dodgers need someone to claim the second base job and are looking for versatility on their bench, so it’s not impossible both ultimately make the team. But if it’s only one, the nod has to go to Gordon.

His legs remain an intriguing weapon, and they have 10 fewer years on them than Figgins’. Plus, Gordon has bulked up (this is relative, of course) his thin frame and shown a willingness to try whatever the Dodgers have thrown at him. He’s earned a shot.