With Spring Training in full swing, fans have a chance to see not only their favorite players, but also players fighting to make the club for the 2021 season. Among these players for the Cincinnati Reds is base-stealing pro and utility man Dee Strange-Gordon.
Strange-Gordon, the former Seattle Mariners’ second baseman, comes into camp as a strong possibility to not only make the Opening Day roster, but to also potentially start at shortstop; a glaring hole for the team.
This acquisition brings not only speed and experience, but also the ability to provide runs coming from the bottom of the lineup. However, it won’t be easy being the new guy, as the team also has competitors in Kyle Farmer, Alex Blandino, and and Rule 5 draftee Kyle Holder who have recent experience playing the position.
Reds infielder Strange-Gordon is looking for new opportunity
Signing with the Cincinnati Reds on a minor league contract with the chance to make a base salary of $1M if he makes the team, Dee Strange-Gordon is hoping this opportunity ends better than his previous stint with the Seattle Mariners. During his time in the Pacific Northwest, over 291 total games (33 of which were in the 2020 season) the offense just wasn’t there.
Last season as a part-time player, Strange-Gordon batted .200 with only three stolen bases and three RBIs. A sharp decline from ’19 when he batted .275 with 22 stolen bases and 34 RBIs over 117 games, and in 2018 with 30 stolen bases and 36 RBIs over 141 games.
The experience that can’t be overlooked is his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins during the 2014-2017 seasons, where Strange-Gordon became a two-time All-Star and had an insane average of 60 stolen bases a year.
The next closest player during that time in stolen bases was the Reds’ very own former speedster, Billy Hamilton. The team is hoping Strange-Gordon can return to that on-base threat and be utilized in a similar position Hamilton was; to provide runners on base and in scoring position, with a better bat too.
Dee Strange-Gordon could add speed at the bottom of the Reds lineup
A team with a collective on-base percentage of .312 and in the middle of the NL pack last season, the history of Dee Strange-Gordon’s base stealing and the removal of the universal DH could help his case to make the roster.
Successful teams have utilized pinch runners, bunts, and stolen bases to also be successful on the base paths which the Reds should not ignore. Hitting ninth in the lineup would change the entire approach to opposing pitchers trying to avoid facing the advantage of the top of the lineup.
While similar to Hamilton in low batting average and offensive numbers, Strange-Gordon’s on-base percentage and speed will be what separates him from Farmer, Blandino, and Holder when the Cincinnati Reds are struggling for hits and runs.
When Strange-Gordon was first drafted, his original position was shortstop, but in order to make the league he switched to second base with the Dodgers. With the chance to play his position once again, I expect the confidence and passion to return to not only himself, but his play on the field.
The Reds will give Dee Strange-Gordon every opportunity to make the team.
If Strange-Gordon has a strong spring and continues to develop at his old position, I expect him to make the Opening Day roster and provide the All-Star caliber speed we have been used to seeing from him be a catalyst for the entire lineup.
With uncertainty at shortstop and the need for runners in scoring position, the Reds have nothing to lose, even if it means potentially sacrificing a bat for the team who was the worst in the NL last season in batting average (.212).
With a fresh start, and a strong relationship with Reds’ great Barry Larkin, Dee Strange-Gordon has the support to make the most of his time in Goodyear. His ability to play multiple positions and the confidence from Larkin can be just what he needs to make an impact for this club in ways someone like Hamilton couldn’t, especially ninth in the lineup.