We all know that Alex Gordon has been the best hitter on the Royals this season, leading the team in virtually every offensive statistic this season. We also know that Gordon has turned into perhaps the best defensive left fielder in baseball, winning three consecutive Gold Glove awards while possessing an arm so accurate and strong that it is amazing that other players still run on him. However, what we likely do not realize is that Alex Gordon may just be the best left fielder in all of baseball.
Right now, Gordon is worth 3.4 WAR, the highest mark amongst all left fielders, and almost a full point better than Michael Brantley and Nelson Cruz, who rank second with a 2.5 WAR. Gordon, who is easily the class of the American League at this point, has an even more dominant lead over the National League leader Seth Smith and his 1.9 WAR.
That value has been spread out over all facets of Alex Gordon’s game. Offensively, Gordon is hitting at a .281/.366/.446 rate this season, good for an OPS+ of 123. Meanwhile, on defense, Gordon has yet to make an error, and ranks amongst the league leaders in virtually every defensive category for left fielders. His value on offense has been further enhanced by his defensive acumen, which has saved the Royals 15 runs thus far in the 2014 season.
While it may not be a shock to Royals fans that Gordon is amongst the best, if not the best, left fielder in the game, it may be a surprise to more casual fans. He is not amongst the top hitters in baseball, and is overshadowed playing on the smaller market Royals, a team which rarely receives any national attention. His greatest strength, his defense, is not something that typically captures the attention of fans outside of Kansas City, aside from the occasional Web Gem.
Yet, this does not diminish the value of Alex Gordon; if anything, it enhances it. Seemingly unnoticed outside of the Kansas City area, Gordon has become the best left fielder in baseball, a player who may be on pace for not just an All-Star season, but possibly an MVP caliber performance.
Alex Gordon has been the best left fielder in baseball thus far in 2014. For those of us fortunate enough to see him virtually every day, it is certainly not a surprise.