Alex Gordon blew threw the minor leagues which is hardly a shock given the fact that he was was drafted second overall in the 2005 MLB Entry Draft by the Royals. He then had a solid first season in 2007 with 15 homers, 14 steals, 60 runs scored and 60 RBIs. Year two showed a wee bit of growth, his OPS climbed from .725 to .783, but 2009 was a total disaster as he hit .232 in only 49 games played (he missed about three months with a hip injury that required surgery). In 2010 he broke his thumb in camp and started the year in the minors eventually appeared in 74 games which resulted in an anemic .215-8-20 line. Was his career over before it really began? Gordon answered with an emphatic no in 2011 as he busted loose to hit .303 with 23 homers, 87 RBIs, 101 runs scored an 17 steals, finally fulfilling the promise that led to his selection at the top of the ’05 Draft. However, Gordon took a step back last season in AVG/OBP/SLG, HR, RBI, runs and stolen bases leaving some to question just how exciting a pick up Gordon will be for the 2013 season. Before I get to breaking down Gordon…
I was recently told by someone in my life that some of my writing of late has been a bit dry and too analytical. In order to address that concern I thought I would go completely off the rails today with a story from my youth involving a vacation, an 85 degree night, some alcohol and a video camera. OK, I might need to spice things up around here but I’m not gonna divulge any stories from my youth – not while sober at least. I seem somewhat professional to most, so there’s no need to ruin that illusion.
Despite the perception of some, Gordon didn’t exactly fail last season as he hit .294 with 14 homers, 72 RBIs, 93 runs scored and 10 steals. Sure that effort was a step back from ’12, but Gordon was still one of seven players in baseball who went .290-14-70-90-10 (Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, David Wright, Alex Rios and Aaron Hill). Is that type of an effort a letdown? Many would say yes given the heights he attained in 2011, but let’s be honest here. His batting average fell nine points. That’s nothing. It’s literally five hits over the course of the entire season. That’s one hit every five weeks. He also upped his walk rate from 9.7 to 10.1 percent while also cutting down on his K-rate (for the first time in his career the number was under 20 percent at 19.4). Gordon also posted a .356 BABIP, just two points lower than 2012, and he also had an elite 25.0 percent line drive rate that was 10th in baseball. His staning in the batting average category was fine.
His power did fall from 23 homers to 14, but in three of his four full seasons he’s hit 15, 16 and 14 homers. Isn’t it more likely that his 23 homer output in ’11 was the outlier than his effort last season? Moreover, his .455 SLG from last season is actually better than his career rate of .439. It’s also hard to dog a guy who had 51 doubles last season, the highest mark in baseball (he hit 45 in 2011 giving him a total of 96 doubles the last two years, the most in baseball – two more than Robinson Cano). The biggest issue with the power is that Gordon hit fewer fly balls than every before and fewer fly balls left the yard than normal. Gordon had a 33 percent fly ball rate last season that is well below his career 40 percent mark. When you don’t lift the ball as well you better be converting those fly balls into homers with great frequency. He didn’t. After 3-straight years between 11-13 percent in the HR/F category the number dropped to 8.5 percent. Given the totality of the data I wouldn’t rule out a return to the 20 homer level this season as both those numbers should rise in the coming season.
Gordon is a solid add on draft day, especially if expectations are muted after a “somewhat down” 2012 campaign. He figures to be a solid source in the batting average category and a run at a 15/15 season has to be seriously considered (there’s even a potential 20/20 season lurking). Given his .370+ OBP the past two years you also have to feel pretty good about his chances at making it 3-straight years with 90 runs scored. Gordon isn’t an elite option in the outfield but don’t be at all afraid to make him part of your lineup, especially if his draft day cost is low.
Finally, don’t forget to get your copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is now available. Nearly 150 pages of insight to help you dominate the competition in 2013.
By Ray Flowers