Don't believe it for one second. Don't have any doubts. Phil Rizzuto and Freddie Patek prove it. Dee Gordon will soon be a star
Some teams shied away from pursuing him because Devaris "Dee" Gordon is 5'11" inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. They viewed Gordon as a small kid with little power. The long season schedule was cited as a potential problem.
Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto was 5'6" inches tall and weighed 150 pounds. Kansas City Royals shortstop Freddie Patek stood only 5'5" inches tall and weighed 148 pounds.
At Albuquerque (Triple-A) in 2011, former pitcher Tom Gordon's son batted .333/.373/.410. He stole 30 bases out of 34 attempts in only 70 games before joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he hit .304/.325/.362 with 24 steals in 56 games.
Gordon brings back Dodgers fans memories of Maury Wills, who was as tall as Gordon, but who weighed 20 pounds more. Does it really matter?
Wills was an igniter. He averaged a mere two home runs over a 162-game season, but from 1960-65, he averaged 63 stolen bases a season. The 23-year-old Gordon might do even better if he can draw more walks.
This spring, Gordon is batting .397 and had 10 consecutive steals before being thrown out. Davey Lopes, who stole a few bases in his career, has been greatly impressed.
"Some people have something a little different," Lopes is quoted as saying by Jon Heyman. "He has that thing. Some people light a room -- he lights up the base paths."
Father Tom commented on how rapidly his son learns. "When you teach him something, it doesn't take him all day long."
A leadoff hitter that is fast and steals bases is as valuable as a power hitter. A single and a stolen base equal a double.
Remember how announcers usually said, when Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman or Lou Brock reached first, that speed slows down the game? Making the pitcher pay attention to the runner affects his concentration on the batter.
The Dodgers have had some great leadoff hitters, including Wills, Lopes, Steve Sax, Jim Gilliam, Brett Butler and Eddie Stanky. It is possible that the best is yet to come.