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Quick Pitches: Dee Gordon's improving plate discipline

Dee Gordon has had a huge start to 2014, but his turn around began early last year

Dee Gordon leaving the bat on his shoulder
Dee Gordon leaving the bat on his shoulder
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into 2014 lots of people, including myself, had left Dee Gordon for dead. After three years of showing the same baseball skills as Usain Bolt, it looked like Dee's time with the Dodgers was almost up. However, Dee has at least temporarily proved his doubters wrong and over the first couple weeks of the season has been one of the best hitters in baseball. While many have credited Gordon's larger frame for his improvement, the biggest change began after his demotion last May. One of Dee's many weaknesses at the plate was having zero concept of the strike zone, but since his trip to Albuquerque he's learned how to leave the bat on his shoulder.

Dee Gordon Before 2013 Demotion
Year PA P/PA Swing %
2011 233 3.43 54.2%
2011 (AAA) 313 3.56 50.7%
2012 330 3.64 49.2%
2012 (AAA) 32 3.81 38.5%
2013 73 3.78 44.6%
2013 (AAA) 106 3.94 45.2%
Total 1087 3.61 49.5%

Dee Gordon After 2013 Demotion
Year PA P/A Swing %
2013 33 3.42 46.0%
2013 (AAA) 327 3.79 42.5%
2014 49 3.84 43.1%
Total 409 3.76 42.9%

Gordon suddenly acquiring a non-Francoeurian strike zone has lead to him being able to see more pitches, and kept him from flailing at pitches he has no chance on. So far this has lead to more consistent hard contact and less embarrassing strike outs. There's a myriad of reasons that Gordon won't hit nearly this well over a longer period of time, but if he can keep this up, he could stick with the Dodgers as a valuable bench piece. That may not seem like much, but it's a far cry from the "guaranteed Starlin Castro Triple Crown winner1" title he held coming into the season.

1. The Starlin Castro Triple Crown is awarded to the person who leads the league in outs, caught stealing, and errors. There has been one winner, Starlin Castro in 2012.