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On Dee Gordon and runs scored

Scott Cunningham

LOS ANGELES -- Dee Gordon is back in the leadoff spot for Friday's series opener against the Brewers, the 103rd time in 124 games he has batted leadoff for the Dodgers this season.

Gordon is coming off one of his best games of the year on Thursday, when he had three hits and a walk, scored four runs and stole two bases. Gordon is the only leadoff hitter in Dodgers franchise history with at least four runs scored, three hits and two steals in a game dating back to at least 1914.

But even with Gordon having a good season offensively, hitting .291/.338/.386 with an on-base percentage above the league as a whole (.311) as well as all National League leadoff hitters cumulatively (.325), and atop the lineup of a good offense - the Dodgers rank fifth in the NL averaging 4.11 runs per game - Gordon has scored only 67 runs this season.

That's a pace for just 88 runs, which seem like a shockingly low total for someone in Gordon's position.

Gordon leads the major leagues with 54 stolen bases and he hasn't been overly aggressive or reckless, stealing at an 80.6-percent clip. Even factoring in his seven outs made on base, including pickoffs, Gordon scores a run in 39 percent of his opportunities, well above the 29-percent league rate.

Dodgers number two hitters - mostly Yasiel Puig - have the best OPS in the NL, and their third-place and cleanup hitters are in the middle of the pack, each eighth in OPS, nothing abnormally low or unproductive.

So why are his runs scored so low?

Part of the reason is when Gordon is actually leading off an inning. Batting first in a frame, Gordon is hitting just .240/.289/.320 this season in 187 plate appearances, roughly 37.2 percent of his total plate appearances. Leading off a game, Gordon has been even worse, hitting .224/.225/.316.

His batting average on balls in play is .284 when leading off an inning and .297 when leading off a game, both relatively normal but also well below Gordon's .346 overall BABIP this season and .324 career marks.

When not leading off an inning Gordon has thrived to the tune of .322/.367/.443, fueled partially by a .374 BABIP.

But if we normalize Gordon's BABIP such that both splits were roughly equal, he'd have seven more singles while leading off an inning and hitting .280/.326/.331 in those situations.

What does this mean? I don't know. But it might explain why Gordon has scored a relatively low amount of runs given his production to date.