Gordon closing in on joining elite company
ST. PETERSBURG -- Another night, another hit closer for Dee Gordon to a major milestone. Actually, with four games remaining, the Marlins' All-Star is closing in on something rare -- 200 hits and 60 stolen bases in the same year. It's been done only a dozen times.
Gordon had an RBI single in the ninth inning of Miami's 6-4 loss to the Rays on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. The 27-year-old now has 198 hits and 56 steals.
"It's special," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "It truly is a tribute to the type of year that he's having. Gordon is a unique person. He's a special player. His character is off the charts."
The last player to post 200/60 in the same season is Juan Pierre, who had 204 hits and 65 stolen bases with the Marlins in 2003.
To put this combination in perspective, it's been done just five times since 1962 -- Maury Wills 1962 (208/104), Lou Brock 1971 (200/64), Willie Wilson 1980 (230/79), Kenny Lofton 1996 (210/75) and Pierre in '03.
Since 1900, recognized as the beginning of MLB's modern era, the achievement has been done 12 times. Ty Cobb did it five times -- 1909 (216/76), 1911 (248/83), 1912 (226/61), 1915 (208/96) and 1916 (201/68). Benny Kauff reached the plateaus in 1914 (211/75), and Sam Rice in 1920 had 211 hits and 63 stolen bases.
Gordon was hitless in four at-bats on Wednesday until two outs in the ninth inning. Miguel Rojas kept the inning alive with a single off closer Brad Boxberger.
Rojas took second on defensive indifference, and Gordon followed with a run-scoring single to left.
With the Dodgers last year, Gordon paced the Majors with 64 stolen bases. Currently, he is second in the big leagues to Cincinnati's Billy Hamilton, who has 57 steals. But Hamilton is out for the season.
If Gordon does get to 60 steals, he says it will be challenging for any player to regularly reach that number because of how the game has changed.
"The game has kind of adapted to stop the stolen base," Gordon said. "You've got to be fearless to do it. It's going to keep getting harder and harder."
Pitchers are quicker to the plate, and scouting reports are more sophisticated.
Stealing third also isn't occurring as often, mainly because teams don't want to risk anything, especially with a speedster already in scoring position.
"You can't steal as much because teams don't like it," Gordon said. "They're like, 'I can hit you in from second.'"
Gordon added that he wouldn't have stolen as often this year if Giancarlo Stanton wasn't hurt. You don't want to give teams more reasons to pitch around one of the game's most feared hitters.
"You don't want to mess up his rhythm," the second baseman said. "It's going to be more of being the threat than actually [stealing]."