Standing outside the batting cages at the Miami Marlins' spring training complex last spring, Dee Gordon talked about how excited he was about the trade to Miami and having the chance to play with Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. But Gordon is the sort of person who would find a reason to be excited about any place he plays, no matter the circumstances.
Gordon naturally veers toward positivity, which would seem to be a trait that helped him improve so much over the past two years and ascend beyond the expectations of evaluators.
In the fourth part of our ongoing top 10 series -- we already ranked starting pitchers, relievers and first basemen -- here are the top 10 second basemen in baseball, based on the input of MLB evaluators and players.
1. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Right after the Astros beat the Yankees in the American League wild-card game last month, Altuve disappeared from the Houston clubhouse for a time, for the sake of self-preservation. Altuve knew that if he showed his face among champagne-spraying teammates, the chances of his being drenched were probably about the same as if he were standing underneath Niagara Falls.
He is small in stature, listed at 5 feet 6 -- generously -- but is high in impact. In 2015, Altuve again reached 200 hits, including 59 extra-base hits, and he stole 38 bases and scored 86 runs.
Altuve also won a Gold Glove for his defensive work, ranking among the top 10 in defensive runs saved.
2. Dee Gordon, Miami Marlins
Gordon has spent his professional career working to get stronger, working to put on weight, knowing that opposing pitchers will hammer him with inside fastballs and effectively knock the bat out of his hands. For Gordon, adding strength and pounds has been a challenge. He reduced the amount of pickup basketball he played, ate better and took a big step forward as a hitter in 2014 -- then took one giant leap in 2015, leading the National League in hits despite dislocating his thumb in July and missing 17 games.