Dee Gordon is hoping to set the tone for the Miami Marlins 2017 season.
In a season that saw the second baseman test positive for PEDs, the man who was supposed to set the table for these Marlins plans on this coming season as a bit of redemption. The 2015 NL Batting Champion could be the catalyst this franchise needs.
Not Giancarlo Stanton. Not Christian Yelich. Not the pitching staff or any rookie with potential. Everything may be defined by what No. 9 does on the base pads.
This could be the year Gordon erases a sub-par and forgotten season and rewrites his own novel – one that might end with the Marlins in the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
“2017 offers a new chance for Gordon to reclaim some dignity. But it won’t be easy,” writes Mark Wilson of theinscribermag.com. “I’m sure he’ll face criticism and side-eye glances and drug testing for him will be more regularly scheduled, but he can do it.”
If the Marlins are to win more games, getting on base has to be a priority. Manager Don Mattingly expressed the team’s need to walk more, taking more pitches, and move runners around once they are on base. Miami has a nice middle of the lineup with power from Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. But no one team can wait for the long ball every at bat.
If power defines a player, speed and baseball sense define a franchise. Mattingly and his club must establish themselves as a thinking man’s team.
Everything begins on Saturday when Miami and St. Louis kick off the minor league season in Jupiter, FL are Roger Dean Stadium. Spring Training games aren’t a true indicator of the season to come, but for players like Gordon they are a way to move forward. After a 79-82 record in 2016, this is a team that wants to avoid injuries, move base runners, rely on its starting pitchers for quality innings and a bullpen that could be MLB’s best.
It’s a tall order, but it’s also a recipe for success. Gordon’s success as a hitter might be the straw that stirs the dink in south Florida this season. If all the ingredients are distributed evenly, this could be a historical year. As long as Gordon puts his past behind him, he and the Marlins could have a clear path to greatness this season.