In 2006, at 22, Alex Gordon played 130 AA games in the Texas League. He went .325/.427/.588 with 29 HRs, 39 doubles and 22 steals. He also struck out 113 times in 130 games.

The Royals were impressed; the following year they invited Gordon up for an extended cup of coffee that would last three years. In 2007, Gordon appeared in 151 games for the Royals and posted a middling .247/.314/.411 mark. Still he was only 23. At that age, a 6.8% walk rate and a 25.2% strikeout rate are correctable. And, on the bright side, he did hit 15 HRs and swipe 14 bases.

While Gordon’s debut wasn’t legendary, there was promise. Indeed, many fantasy prognosticators speculated that his 2008 season, at age 24, would be a 20-20 performance from a corner infielder. Well, Gordon did improve (.260/.351/.432 with 16 HRs and nine steals), just not by leaps and bounds. Though his counting stats did not meet expectations, his secondary numbers indicated growth: his line drive and fly ball rates increased and his ground ball rate decreased.

In the minds of the fantasy community, 2009 was sure to be Gordon’s behemoth season. Or not. Gordon got off to a slow start, battled some injuries and only played in 49 major league games before being demoted to Omaha. In his limited games with Kansas City, Gordon hit .232/.324/.378, but without much increase in strikeouts or decrease in walks. He did hit fewer line drives and way more ground balls – but 49 games is a pretty small sample. When he played in the minors in ’09, he destroyed the ball.

Gordon’s 2010 appeared to follow the same path as 2009; in relatively few major league opportunities, Gordon exhibited similar hitting struggles (.215/.315/.355) that earned him his demotion the previous year. The numbers underlying those numbers, however, indicated that Gordon was salvageable. His line drives came back and his ground balls went away – at least similar to 2007 and 2008 levels. Furthermore, he had an uncharacteristically low .254 BABiP, nearly 50 points below his .302 career average.

Looking back on Gordon’s past two shortened major league seasons, the problem was not with Gordon’s talent. In 2009, in a small sample, his line drive rate was funky. In 2010, in a small sample, his average on balls in play was funky. At every reasonable sample in the minors, Gordon absolutely torched the ball.

In 2011, now 27 and in his prime, Gordon is thus far hitting .309/.367/.500. His line drive rate is in line with 2007-08 and 2010. He is swinging and missing less than at any point in his career, albeit not much less than last season. In 2011, he is destroying fastballs – a pitch that tortured him in 2010.

And, there is still room for likely improvement. Gordon is posting a surprisingly poor HR/FB rate (7.3% compared to 9.3% for his career and double digits the last two seasons).

Of course, I have not mentioned the one extremely funky 2011 statistic: .358 BABIP. Think of this as the  bent stick remedy for his miserable 2010 BABIP. When you meet in the middle of those two numbers, his average on balls in play is around .325 or so. With that kind of “luck” and a continued line drive rate, Gordon should hit .270.

Further, with a reasonable walk rate and if he maintains a similar isolated power, he should post a .360 OBP and .445 slugging percentage. Now for the “real” stats, i.e. the counting numbers. Gordon is a lock for 15 HRs, with upside to 20. So far he is 3/4 in SB attempts, I don’t see any reason he can’t go 11/15. In a suddenly somewhat potent Royals lineup (hello, Wilson Betemit – nice to meet you, Eric Hosmer), Gordon should score and knock in 80+ runs.

Gordon, to date, has disappointed on the major league stage. Fortunately, he looks to be back on his 2007 and 2008 MLB trajectory.

  1. bosox says:

    Funny thing I was actually listening to that song when I first read the post

  2. TheBlackWatermelon says:

    Hey God,

    How do you feel about:
    MY Carlos Quentin & Ted Lilly
    For HIS Billy Butler & Kyle Lohse

  3. It’s a catching unAmerican tune!

  4. @TheBlackWatermelon:

    a fairly even swap. The key is Quentin’s health. If he gets 550-600 plate appearances, 28-32 HRs are there. He’ll hit .265 though.

    Meanwhile Butler will hit 17 HRs if the wind blows out consistently, but post a solid .300 average.

    i think Lilly is a far better pitcher than Lohse.

    So I think you are giving up a little too much. However if you needed average and werent hurting for power/Ks, i could see making the deal. I’d try for something better though

  5. C.O.C. says:

    Had the last pick in a 16 team H2H league, and picked Gordon up from free-agency as he went undrafted. I drafted my infield first in this DEEP league, figuring I could ride fliers in my OF to make up for production. So far Gordon has been the bargain of the year hitting-wise in my league.

  6. @C.O.C.:

    Absolutely – especially in a 16-teamer. A little surprised he went undrafted. But kudos to you for mining free agency and grabbing a gem. It’s a shame you cant plug him in your 3b slot, but his stats will play in a 16-teamer for OF purposes.

  7. SwaggerJackers says:

    Gordon is a tough one to sell. I traded him and Dempster to get Kuroda. NO ONE in my RCL league wants him.

  8. Elkheart says:

    I traded Gordon away for Shin-soo. Then Choo got a DUI. DOE!

  9. @SwaggerJackers:

    As the 30th ranked player, i doubt you’d get anywhere near that value in a straight-up swap for Gordon. However, he could finish around the top 100 rather easily.

    In your case, I probably would have held onto your players (depends on how you picked up).

  10. TheBlackWatermelon says:

    @Albert Lang:

    @ God,

    Thanks so much for the advice man, it is much appreciated.

  11. OaktownSteve says:

    A rising tide lifts all boats. I think it’s helpful to Gordon to be in a line up that is not so crappy as in year’s past. The promotion of Hosmer makes Gordon even more not the savior. I think the sum of the parts in KC make Gordon more viable and more likely to hold on to some of this early season success. More times through the line up, more at bats with people on base. Seems to have taken to the outfield too.

  12. @TheBlackWatermelon:

    sure thing – any questions you need answered post or find me on twitter @h2h_corner

    thank you for reading!

  13. @OaktownSteve:

    That’s a great point – the emergence of Butler and Aviles to a certain extent along with others (Francoeur, Cabrera, betemit) playing out of their minds really helps.

    Very good point!

  14. michael bourne says:

    “but all the things that you have seen well slowly fade away.”

  15. michael bourne says:

    “don’t you know that you might find a better place to play.” The royals are just so ugly

  16. MeanMachine says:

    Just pulled off a trade. Gave up Berkman (sell now before i get hurt) and Tommy Hansen for Miggy! I hated to give up Hanson but seeing how i picked him off the wire when a stupid owner panicked after his slow start i can live with it. The irony is it’s this dumb ass i’m trading him back 2. Man i love this game sometimes.

  17. @michael bourne:

    Dont think I agree….there are some nice pieces in Kansas City. Sure they arent the Sox or Yankees….but it isnt as bad as the were a few short years ago.

  18. @MeanMachine:

    You truly are a mean machine — getting Miggy for that combo is solid work, getting Hanson off the wire is even better!

    You might want to try some tougher competition – looks like you own a few of your leaguemates!

    thanks for reading!

  19. Alex says:

    In many leagues he’s getting 1B elegibility too. Do you consider him a sell high player? Someone might value him as a 20-20 or better guy.

  20. @Alex:

    True 1b eligibility is nice…but he should be slotted in at 3b whenever possible.

    If someone is paying a top 60ish player, I’d move Gordon.

    He is a 15-20 HR guy with 10-12 HRs and a .270 hitter….so not quite as good as someone like Ben Zobrist.

    Thanks for reading!

  21. michael bourne says:

    Kc also is not the twins or tigers or white sox. I don’t see cleveland or kc to have the pitching or talent to end the season above 500. They do this every year with a good start. They last won 83 games in 2003. This year they traded away Greinke. The royals might kill your whip, but not your era.

  22. @michael bourne:

    Well, the Royals’ run differential is better than 19 teams – that is not bad. True their pitching isnt very good….yet. But the Twins are abysmal this season so far and the White Sox havent been much better than that.

    that said, the royals have played a lot of home games compared to the rest of the division.

    still little of this has an impact on Alex Gordon taking the next step in his career.

  23. michael bourne says:

    No. And you aren’t overhyping Gordon like many fantasy sites hyped Hosmer. Better than 15-15 with a .270 is reasonable. I am glad you noticed the home away differential. Gordon is a good ci option.

    How long do you t hink the tribe can keep their pitching up?

  24. @michael bourne:

    Gordon vis a vis how cheap he was will be a huge bargain. I also think people are snake bitten by him. I dont think he’ll be superhuman special; however, he’ll be an above average 3b for teams, great CI and average OF. So he’s not one of those guys you have to sell now for whatever you can get.

    As for the Indians….man, The Tribe are confusing – things have been going so well, but you see the wheels falling off a tad. Sizemore has hit a tiny tail spin, Hannahan hasnt done anything lately (hello Chisenhall?).

    But Choo hasnt done anything and Santana has been disappointing.

    In addition, their SPs have decent k:bb ratios right now. I wouldnt bet on them winning the division, but the team i like the most, the White Sox, are in a world of hurt. 85 wins could take that division…and with a few good bounces, the Tribe could get there.

  25. michael bourne says:

    For the record I think the tigers will win. VMart makes you pay. They upgraded laird and everett. Everything is on Jim Leyland now. Good blog post and good conversation.

  26. @michael bourne:

    Absolutely – real glad you stopped by, read, enjoyed and commented.

    At this point the Tigers look like they’re in a decent position.

    I’m sticking with the White Sox – too much talent….

  27. Tony says:

    go tribe

  28. Arnold F. Fege says:

    I will trade you a Portcello for a Gordan anytime. Let me know.

  29. theevilempire says:

    I got liriano’d

  30. @theevilempire:

    Yeah – until the Ks start coming back and the walks disappear, Liriano cant be trusted.

    There’s always a chance the game will get postponed!

  31. Gip says:

    picked up Gordon off waivers after week 1 and he’s been helpful with 1b & of eligibility,
    I was offered Ortiz for him but turned it down. Now that that team owner knows I want more for him, he has offered Ortiz for the injury-plagued Delmon Young. That seems better but will Delmon come back to brun me when he comes off the DL?

  32. @Gip:

    Nice work – way to leverage your squad.

    The only thing Delmon Young has on Ortiz is OF eligibility. If you dont need an outfielder, Ortiz should do better in HRs/RBIs and provide a decent average.

    Make sure you have room as he’ll take up all of your utility.

  33. Lord says:

    Alex Gordon sucks a huge wang

  34. Lopes says:

    If I tried to trade away choo for Justin upton, what are the chances that actually work?

  35. Alex says:

    Wish I read this earlier before he got picked up.

    Good article.

  36. @Lopes:

    Seems pretty fair to me. I actually have Choo higher than Upton. more upside with J-Up, but i prefer the steady Choo (although he’s been anything but so far).

    Seems like a fair deal to me. I wouldnt do it, but if you like J-Up, go get the player you want to own! Fantasy baseball is about fun

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