New number. New position. New life.
What a ride it has been so far for Alex Gordon.
From being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft, to being the Royals’ best player in 2011, Gordon has faced some extreme lows and some (recent) extreme highs.
He started his career as the most popular player on the Royals after being labeled the “next George Brett” right out of college. He kept the majority of his popularity after hitting 15 homeruns and 60 RBI’s in his rookie season. However, there were questions about his overall approach at the plate because of his .247 average and his 137 to 41 K to BB ratio.
A number change in 2008, from 7 to 4, didn’t bring any changes to his play on the diamond. His offensive numbers were almost identical and his defense raised some concerns after having 16 errors with a .955 fielding percentage.
Gordon’s numbers in 2009 and 2010 were much worse while he was dealing with injuries and a position change. Some fans gave up on Gordon and thought of him as another bust.
Slow development is not what Royals’ fans were told to expect. He was supposed to come in and turn the club around. He was supposed to carry the team to relevancy right away.
As everyone knows, those things did not happen.
This year was the perfect chance for Gordon to start from scratch. The Brett comparisons and hype from being a No. 2 overall pick were gone. Hosmer and Moustakas were the new names fans were looking at to carry the team to the next level. Billy Butler held onto his crown as Kansas City’s “Fan Favorite.”
Gordon was merely an afterthought in most fans’ minds. For once, he could go out and play baseball without facing such scrutiny every time he struck out.
He started the season flying under the radar, but it didn’t take him much time to turn that around.
He has been Mr. Consistency for the Royals all year offensively, and defensively. His popularity amongst fans is back to where it was his rookie year. He has completely reinvented himself.
Alex Gordon 2.0 has been in effect during the entire 2011 season.
In 2006, nobody could have imagined Gordon as the Royals’ starting left fielder hitting in the leadoff spot. He was supposed to be a power-hitting third baseman knocking in runs from the three-hole.
He has gone from a 22-year-old kid facing an immense amount of pressure, to a 27-year-old man who has figured out the ropes of the majors.
This complete 180 degree turn that Gordon has gone through is not at all a bad thing.
With 27 games remaining, Gordon has career highs in Runs (87), Hits (160), Doubles (40), Homeruns (19), BA (.305), OBP (.378), SLG (.506), and OPS (.884).
His defense has been nothing short of remarkable as well. He only has two outfield errors on the season and has an MLB-best 20 outfield assists.
His numbers have put Royals fans back on his side. The last two years Kauffman Stadium was scattered with “boo’s” every time his name was called. This year he gets the biggest ovation of any of the Royals’ players.
He came up just short in the MLB’s Final All-Star Vote, and probably should have been the Royals’ representative anyway.
The Royals’ organization has also shown their appreciation of what Gordon has done this year. They held Ballot Punch Parties to encourage fans to vote him into the All-Star game and named him the winner of the “Heart and Hustle Award.” They are also offering $4 tickets to this Sunday’s game versus the Indians to honor his breakout season.
Gordon was in the perfect situation coming into this year and seized what could have been his last opportunity with the Royals. He proved what he is capable of and everyone is taking heed.
He is only guaranteed to be with the Royals through next season. Hopefully the Royals are able to lock him up for years to come.
The Alex Gordon of 2006-2010 wouldn’t be hearing much talk about a contract extension…but Alex Gordon 2.0 definitely is.