By trading Dee Gordon to the Miami Marlins over the winter, the Dodgers banished the All-Star second baseman to a baseball wasteland.
After a 7-1 defeat to the Dodgers on Friday night, the Marlins dropped to 15 games under .500. The overwhelming majority of Marlins Park was empty.
Only Gordon didn’t sound upset when he reflected on the seven-player trade.
“Heck no,” he said. “This is home.”
Gordon was born and raised in Florida. He has a 78-year-old grandmother who lives a couple of hundred miles north and rides the train into town almost every other weekend to watch him play.
“She never got to see me in L.A.,” Gordon said.
Plus, Gordon thinks the Marlins have provided him with the set of circumstances that have allowed him to flourish.
Gordon collected three hits in the series opener against his former team and now has 110 for the season, the most in baseball. He is batting .356 and leads National League second basemen in All-Star balloting.
The Dodgers starting pitcher, Brett Anderson, compared Gordon to Nori Aoki, the leadoff hitter for the San Francisco Giants.
“Kryptonite lefty speed guy,” Anderson said.
Gordon manufactured a run on his own in the first inning. He reached base on an infield single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on another groundout. The run would be the only run scored by the Marlins.
Gordon has stolen 26 bases. He has also been caught stealing 10 times, most recently in the third inning Friday.
On a team like the Dodgers, who top the NL in home runs, Gordon said he might feel reluctant to run. The Dodgers are last in the majors in stolen bases, with only 14.
On his way to stealing 64 bases last season, Gordon said he was concerned about taking the bat out of the hands of his team’s power hitters.
The Dodgers sent Gordon to the Marlins in December, along with starting pitcher Dan Haren. In exchange, the Dodgers received utility man Enrique Hernandez, right-hander Chris Hatcher, minor league catcher Austin Barnes and pitching prospect Andrew Heaney.
Heaney was flipped to the Angels in exchange for Howie Kendrick, who became Gordon’s replacement at second base.
The Dodgers, who also paid the Marlins $12.5 million to cover the salaries of Haren and Gordon, thought they sold high on the second baseman.
Gordon had a breakout season last year, not only becoming the Dodgers’ starting second baseman but also earning a place on the NL All-Star team. But after the All-Star break, Gordon walked only four times and had an on-base percentage of .300.
Gordon defended his late-season performance last season, pointing to his .284 average after the All-Star break.
He also acknowledged he was physically worn down from having spent his off-season playing winter ball in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
“How can you physically be strong if you played all winter?” he said. “You can’t. You’re asking me to play well over 200 games and be the strongest person on the team and the smallest person of the team.”
Gordon has also made significant gains on defense.
Fangraphs, a baseball statistics website, credits him with 8.9 defensive runs saved, by far the best in the majors among second baseman. Next is Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs, at 5.9.
Heading into spring training with the Dodgers last season, Gordon was prepared for a utility role. He spent some of the winter in center field, some at second base.
“I thought I was pretty good for a guy you just threw out there,” Gordon said.
He credited his improved defensive acumen to Marlins infield coach Perry Hill.
“He’s the best infield coach I’ve ever had,” Gordon said. “I know what I’m doing on that side of the ball now. He explains it to where it’s this, this and this.”
Gordon insisted that he doesn’t begrudge the Dodgers for trading him.
“I appreciate the opportunity they gave me,” he said.
If Gordon has moved on from the trade, so have the Dodgers.
Kendrick has been one of the Dodgers’ steadiest defensive players this season. On Friday night, he was four for five with a run batted in to increase his average to .286.