Time for Dee to be Removed from Mariners Lead-Off Spot?
The Seattle Mariners are 20 games over .500 and nobody is quite sure how. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons is first-year Mariners Dee Gordon. But today, we ask a tough question: is it time for Dee to lose the leadoff hitters spot?
I can already hear Mariners fans everywhere screaming at the screen. And yes, I will admit, when you first hear it out loud, it just seems wrong. Dee Gordon is the leadoff guy. He just is. He has been since day 1 with Seattle.
The guy is the prototypical leadoff man right? He slaps the ball around. He steals bases. And he puts pressure on the defense with every ball put in play. Sounds great right? Except for that whole thing where Dee Gordon isn’t the best leadoff option on this roster.
Think about what the leadoff man’s job really is. The leadoff man is supposed to get on base for the big boys to drive in. To get on base means to not make outs. If only there was a stat to account for how many outs a player makes?
Oh wait, there is! It is called on-base percentage. And Dee Gordon’s is a paltry .306. For context, the league average OBP sits around .320. What does this mean? It means Dee Gordon makes more outs than an average MLB player. So, in layman’s terms, the Mariners are giving the most AB’s to one of their worst hitters.
Look, the simple truth is, Dee Gordon doesn’t walk enough to justify him being in the leadoff spot. Historically, Gordon is only slightly better at not making outs than the average player. Basically, Dee Gordon is hitting leadoff because it seems like he should be.
But fear not Mariners fans, because I can tell you exactly who should be hitting leadoff. And I can tell you exactly where Dee Gordon should be hitting.
Let’s start at the top. Who replaces Dee Gordon as the leadoff man. As stated, the first priority of a lead-off man is to not makes outs. Secondary attributes include speed and pop. Hey, sometimes the obvious answer is still the correct one. Jean Segura should be the leadoff man.
Not only does he possess the ability to steal bases and hit for some power, but most importantly, Segura is getting on base a lot. His .364 OBP is tops on the team (200 PA minimum) and is 14/20 on stolen base attempts. He is also slugging .479. In short, Jean Segura checks all the boxes of the modern day leadoff hitter.
So now, what do you do with Dee Gordon? Well, Scott Servais seems to like the lineup with Dee Gordon hitting ahead of Jean Segura. Luckily for him, he can still have that. All he has to do is move Gordon to ninth.
Before you throw your screen into the dumpster, remember that a lineup is cyclical. It isn’t actually a line, its a loop. Who hits before the leadoff man? The 9 hole hitter. And as luck would have it, Dee Gordon is the perfect 9 hole guy.
He gets on base enough to give Jean Segura and the #2 hitter RBI opportunities, has the speed to get into scoring position, and makes enough contact to not be a black hole. The #9 hitter is actually more valuable than the 6 and 7th lineup slots.
Perhaps you are having trouble imagining this newly aligned lineup. Here is the proposal for your consideration:
- Jean Segura
- Mitch Haniger
- Kyle Seager
- Nelson Cruz
- Ben Gamel/Denard Span
- Ryon Healy
- Mike Zunino
- Guillermo Heredia
- Dee Gordon
In this configuration, you get Haniger an extra AB or two a week, move up Span and Gamel (two of your best hitters right now), and have Heredia and Gordon as “secondary” leadoff men for Segura and Haniger to drive in.
Now, lineup construction is subjective. The difference between hitting 5th and 7th is negligible. But in the current era of insane pitcher talent, doesn’t it make sense to give your best hitters the most opportunities possible?
Finally, there is a hidden beauty of the lineup. Many don’t know about it, and some of the ones who do think of it to be sacrilegious. But the secret is: you can change the lineup whenever you like. If Gordon gets back to his usual .330 OBP, put him back up top.
Next: Mariners Trade a Day: Josh Harrison
But for now, having one of your worst hitters get the most opportunities to hit just doesn’t sit right. Dee Gordon is great, but should he have an indefinite stranglehold on the leadoff spot? Absolutely not.