When looking at the Mariners roster a few weeks ago there were plenty of names to get excited about. Jean Segura, Robbie Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Mitch Haniger, Mike Zunino, Ryon Healy, Mike Leake, James Paxton, King Felix, Edwin Diaz, Marco Gonzalez, the Flow Bros – intriguing players up and down the roster. Several injuries later that list is dwindling, but MY GUY is still there. Newly acquired and newly minted center fielder, Dee “Flash” Gordon.
In what was a fairly quiet winter for Jerry Dipoto, Dee Gordon was the FLASHiest signing for the Mariners this offseason. Three prospects were sent to Miami for the two-time All-Star who has led the National League in stolen bases three of the last four seasons. A lifetime WAR of 10.4 and a career slash of .293/.329/.367/.695, the Mariners have solidified their leadoff spot for the first time since 2012.
The career numbers are solid no doubt, but for me it’s the recent success that is most encouraging. In 2014, while with the LA Dodgers, Gordon started 148 games at second base, made his first All-Star team, and wound up leading the league in triples (12) and stolen bases (64). It was a good enough year to garner an MVP vote.
In 2015, after being traded from LA to the Miami Marlins, Gordon put up an even better season. 205 hits, 58 stolen bases, and a .333 batting average all led the league and once again earned him All-Star honors. Six MVP votes, a Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove were the icing on the cake and Gordon found himself a rising star.
Then came 2016. Gordon tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended for 80-games by Major League Baseball. Definitely a dark moment in a bright, budding career. But in the 79 games he did play that year, Gordon managed 30 stolen bases and was on pace to finish with 60 or more steals for the second time in his career. Nothing was slowing this kid down.
Last year, Gordon proved his All-Star worthy seasons were no fluke. In 158 games he managed 201 hits (the second 200-hit season of his career). He scored a career high 114 runs, slashed .308/.341/.375/.716, and once again led the league in stolen bases with 60.
So yes, I am here to say it – the Mariners have got themselves an absolute DUDE in the leadoff spot. The guy can hit, he can run (only Billy Hamilton  has more stolen bases than Gordon  since 2014), and he can play defense. We should all be excited.
I’m also aware of the big ol’ elephant in the room. Can a guy about to turn 30 years old, who has played the middle infield his entire life, transition from an All-Star second baseman to a big league center fielder? The quick response – absolutely. And he is ready to prove it.
"“Never been afraid of a challenge.” -@FlashGJr"
Dee Gordon is special. His athleticism will play to the strength of a center fielder – especially his speed. His arm strength is above average, which might sound strange considering he is known as a second baseman. But, Gordon came up through the Dodgers system as a short stop and has always had a plus arm. A slight adjustment to his release point, adapting to reading a ball from the outfield, and it will all come together from there.
The truth is, when it comes to Gordon’s career here in Seattle, defense is going to be nothing more than a back story. The man was brought in for one reason. Getting on base and speed up the game in front of Segura, Cano, and Cruz. This is something he will excel at. Singles, setting up stolen bases, setting up Segura and Cano RBI opportunities will become commonplace at Safeco Field. We haven’t seen this much talent at the leadoff position since Ichiro was filling that role. So, get excited Mariners fans. This season is about to “FLASH” before our eyes.