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Fantasy Impact: Dee Gordon’s Thumb Injury

by Jeremy Tiermini
Jul 15, 2015

Early indications point to Dee Gordon avoiding a stint on the DL

Early indications point to Dee Gordon avoiding a stint on the DL

Dee Gordon earned a place in the 2015 All-Star Game but was unable to play because of the left thumb injury he suffered on Saturday. During the seventh inning, while playing the Reds, Gordon slid into first base to beat out an infield hit. His left thumb caught the bag awkwardly, causing a dislocation.

Gordon’s initial reactions suggested the injury was serious, as he left the field before the team’s athletic trainer could reach him at first base and, in the dugout, he threw his batting helmet in apparent frustration. Considering he injured his right thumb in 2012, missing two months of action after surgery, Gordon’s frustrations were understandable. “It is what it is,” Gordon said. “You can’t sit here and cry about it. You can’t sit and cry about something that happened when you play the game the way I play. I’m gonna play it like that probably when I come back, too. I don’t really dive headfirst into first that often, but I wasn’t sure if he was gonna tag me or not… I had to go out a little further and try something I usually don’t do going for the base like that.”

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When a person dislocates a joint, especially for the first time, there is a significant risk of either a fractured bone or ligament damage. In Gordon’s case, X-rays were negative and there have been no reports of any accompanying ligament damage. A physician was able to reduce the dislocation quickly, which certainly helped decrease the severity of the injury. Miami’s second baseman stated, “There is definitely some relief it’s not as bad as it could have been. It’s just sore. I actually was moving it around afterward.”

Despite the potential for a serious injury, every circumstance that could go well has occurred in Gordon’s case. “He had range of motion and decent strength given the injury, so no MRI was necessary,” Michael Hill, the Marlins’ President of Baseball Operations, said. “Not as bad as it could have been. We’re optimistic it shouldn’t be a long-term issue for him. DL may not be necessary. Dee’s going to do everything in his power to avoid that. We’re hopeful we don’t go that far.”

With no structural damage, and with the ability to move his thumb so quickly after the injury, Gordon should be able to avoid the disabled list. Within the same Miami Herald piece, Hill stated, “We’re optimistic. We’re not going to place him on the DL at the moment. He probably won’t be available that first series after the break, but hopefully shortly thereafter.”

Gordon currently leads all major league hitters with 122 hits. He is a singles machine, with only 21 of those hits for extra bases. While Gordon will not provide owners with power numbers (his only home run this season was an inside-the-park homer) the fact that the injury is to his left hand is significant. As a left-handed batter, the injury is not to Gordon’s “power hand” and his swing should not be impacted by this injury.

As I discussed earlier,  you shouldn’t plan on Gordon playing in the Marlins’ first series after the All-Star break. It does appear, however, that he should be ready to go by Monday, July 20, at the latest. In leagues with weekly roster moves, make sure you monitor reports on Gordon throughout the week for any setbacks. The next scoring period, in most leagues that set lineups weekly, runs from 7/17 until 7/26 so you need to make a decision on Gordon by the time rosters lock this Friday.

In looking at him for the remainder of 2015 remember that Gordon’s true fantasy value lies in his legs. With 33 stolen bases already on the season, Gordon could threaten his career-high of 64, which he set last season while playing with the Dodgers. If, however, Gordon comes back in the time frame expected, I would give serious consideration to trading Gordon to shore up other needs on my fantasy roster.

Gordon has a career .342 BABIP, though I am not certain he has played in enough games during his career to state with any kind of confidence that he has the ability to consistently post a BABIP higher than the league average. In mid-May, Gordon’s BABIP of .479 led the league, though he did have some regression, finishing the first half of 2015 with a BABIP of .403. Gordon is not known for his plate discipline so, with a lower walk rate, if his BABIP trends towards his career average, you can safely assume that Gordon will not reach base at the same rate for the remainder of this season.

Last season was also the only campaign in his career when Gordon played in close to a full season. In 148 games in 2014, Gordon batted .289 and he has a career batting average of .287. With a .338 batting average this season, you can see that Gordon has the potential to reach base at a dramatically lower rate in the second half of 2015. This translates to fewer stolen base opportunities, and a lower fantasy value, for Gordon for the remainder of this season.

Jeremy Tiermini is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Jeremy follow him on Twitter at @JeremyTiermini.

Correspondent, Injuries, MLB