MIAMI -- The way he runs is a major reason why Marlins All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon draws so few walks. It's not that the defending National League batting champion has anything against free passes, he's just not going to tailor his approach to get more of them.Besides, Gordon's been
MIAMI -- The way he runs is a major reason why Marlins All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon draws so few walks. It's not that the defending National League batting champion has anything against free passes, he's just not going to tailor his approach to get more of them.
Besides, Gordon's been to the plate enough times to know pitchers will challenge him in the strike zone rather than risk putting him on, especially with no one on base.
"I earn every walk I get, unless he just throws four balls into the dirt," Gordon said. "Then, he gave it to me. But more than likely, I have to earn every walk, because even 3-2 pitches, I strike out looking because they're borderline pitches. So, I have to earn it."
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In 2015, Gordon walked just 25 times, and had a 3.8 walk percentage.
Despite those low figures, Gordon still had one of the greatest individual seasons in Marlins history. The two-time All-Star won the batting title and posted a slash line of .333/.359/.418.
Gordon also led the Majors in hits (205) and steals (58).
Gordon's low walk percentage has received a lot of media coverage in Spring Training, and the speedster took some criticism for a tongue-in-cheek comment he made that appeared to downplay the significance of walks.
"Somebody took that to another level," Gordon said. "Walks are good. They're definitely good. But, the way I see it, common sense, no one is going to walk me. That's just common sense. For me to go out there and try to work a walk, nine times out of 10, it's not going to happen."
The Marlins aren't looking for Gordon to necessarily walk. They want him to make things happen with his game-changing speed. And he certainly did.
MLB.com's Joe Trezza researched how many times Gordon's speed in 2015 gave him an extra base. For example, if he had a single with no one on base, how many times did he steal second? The logic being a single and steal of second could be considered a double. What if those instances counted as doubles, what would his numbers look like?
Last year, 42 times Gordon had a plate appearance with nobody on, reached base and stole. In 32 of those times, he singled and stole second, essentially turning a single into a double. Five times he turned walks into doubles, and five times he turned singles into triples.
If you then replaced those 37 singles and walks into doubles, and those five singles into triples, Gordon's numbers went from: 169 singles, 24 doubles, eight triples, four homers and 25 walks to 132 singles, 61 doubles, 13 triples, four homers and 20 walks.
With those adjustments, Gordon's slugging percentage went from .418 (87th in MLB) to .502 (tied for 19th with Manny Machado and Jose Abreu), and his OPS went from .776 (66th) to .861 (tied for 21st with Machado).
As Gordon prepares for Tuesday's season opener against the Tigers (7:10 p.m. ET), the only thing on his mind is continuing to improve his overall game. He's focused on helping his team win, not crunching numbers.
"I just take what I can handle, and don't try to be something I'm not," he said. "Don't let the game dictate my aggressiveness. Try to stay within myself."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.