Looking at the list of the top ten players in the American League in terms of Wins Above Replacement, we see several players who have become constants over the past few years. Josh Donaldson sits atop the list, followed by such players as Mike Trout, Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano. A case could be made for most of the top ten to be considered a superstar player. Also on that top ten list is the Royals own star, Alex Gordon.
Unlike the others on the list, Gordon does not come about his value in the traditional way. Although he has been quite valuable with the bat for the Royals, producing a .284/.360/.450 batting line with 14 home runs, those are not superstar statistics. Gordon is also perhaps the premier defensive left fielder in the game, possessing an arm so formidable in left that he has essentially shut down the opposition from taking an extra base on any balls hit his way.
It is that combination of solid offense and excellent defense that has made Alex Gordon arguably the Royals Most Valuable Player. In fact, aside from Lorenzo Cain, Gordon is the only regular for the Royals that has an OPS+ over 100, and Cain is at 102. The Royals have been able to continue without missing a step while Eric Hosmer has been injured even though he was their hottest bat during the month of July; it is difficult to picture the Royals doing the same if Gordon was to miss an extended period of time.
Teams that find themselves in the playoffs, or teams that surprise with an extended run at the postseason, typically have that one player who far outpaces the others on their squad. For the Royals, Gordon is that player. His OPS+ of 123 is 31 points higher than the Royals team average. A player that can truly do everything on the diamond, Gordon has been the true force behind the Royals this season.
As such, Alex Gordon deserves to be in the discussion for the American League MVP award. Even if he is a long shot candidate, especially given the seasons put up by Josh Donaldson, Trout and Hernandez, Gordon has led a resurgent Royals team to the cusp of the playoffs. For the first time in a decade, they are truly relevant again when the playoffs are mentioned.
Gordon also truly embodies the Royals. A former top prospect who appeared to be on the verge of failing miserably, he changed positions from third base to left after being demoted to the minors. There, he worked at not only learning a new position, but to rediscover his swing. From the time that he was brought back to Kansas City, Gordon became the star that Royals fans have come to know. On a team that prides itself of being scrappy and overcoming any obstacles put in their path, Gordon leads there as well.
Even if he does not appear to have a chance at winning the award, Alex Gordon deserves to be in the American League MVP discussion. As the most valuable player on a team that appears to be heading to the playoffs, Gordon certainly deserves some attention.