I had several topics I was considering posting about today, but this is one that I have wanted to do for a while. It’s fair to say, up to this point, Alex Gordon‘s baseball career resembles that of a roller coaster. He has seen many ups and also encountered his share of downs. I’m hoping that what we saw of him last year isn’t a mirage and that he can produce along those lines for several more years in a Royals uniform.
Gordon was drafted in the first round, 2nd overall in 2005, after an illustrious collegiate career at the University of Nebraska. His career at Nebraska included an enormous amount of honors including 2x Big XII Player of the Year as well as being a 2x First-Team All-American. At this point Gordon was riding high and was possibly being looked at as the next face of the franchise.
Coming into the 2006 season he was ranked as the 13th best prospect by Baseball America. Simply put, he did not disappoint. Gordon hit 29 homeruns and hit .325. He also had a remarkable OPS of 1.016. He garnered the Texas League Player of the Year award as well as Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year. Needless to say, Gordon was on the right track for the big leagues, and heading into the 2007 season he was the number two overall prospect.
2007 turned out to be a mediocre year after an abysmal start. Through his first two months he was on the way down of this roller coaster as he hit .185 with three homeruns and only eight RBI as an everyday starter in the show. However, he did manage a respectable 15 homeruns and 60 RBI to go along with a .247 batting average. He showed some promise throughout the year, but it didn’t equate to much over the next handful of years. Gordon really saw some of his darkest days as a baseball player from 2008-2010.
He saw many trips up and down from the majors to the minors over these next three seasons, and many were losing hope that this wonder boy from Lincoln would ever be able to put it together and be the player most thought he should be. In 2008 he tore a muscle in his hamstring that landed him on the DL and he also had the lowest fielding percentage of all qualifying 3rd basemen in the American League. 2009 did not go any better as he found himself on the DL again only a week after the start of the season. He missed 12 weeks, and a month after he was reinstated the Royals optioned him to Triple-A Omaha. The roller coaster just kept on dipping down for Mr. Gordon.
Royals fans always seem to be optimistic, so there was still hope from the diehards that Gordon could still be a great player and 2010 would be the year he asserts himself as a force. Wrong again. He started the year on a rehab assignment with Class-A Wilmington due to an injury sustained in spring training. He was activated after three weeks into the season and then demoted only a short time after that, in May. Things were not going his way and they didn’t seem like they ever would. He was recalled in late July and finished out the season with the major league club. Still nothing to write home about at this point.
Well, in 2011 the light started to shine down on him. In spring training he led the major leagues with 23 RBI and was showing some signs of his elite level prospect status from 4 years prior. I even decided to pick him up as a free agent in my fantasy league as I had some hope of things to come. That sure paid off nicely for me throughout the season. Gordon finally rode his roller coaster to a career year. He was one of the best overall outfielders in all of major league baseball last season and he even added a Gold Glove award as he threw out an astonishing 20 base runners. He received votes in the MVP race and was also tied for second in the majors in doubles with teammate Jeff Francoeur. We all are hoping that this is the Alex Gordon that will be around for several more years. I think the Royals believe he is capable of more seasons like 2011, and will most likely reward him with a handsome contract extension very soon.
Gordon certainly has seen some very high high’s and some rock bottom low’s but he is entering the prime of his career and seems to have finally made some adjustments in his approach at the plate as well as found a position as a left fielder. It finally looks like Gordon could level off on a high note and be a producer for many years for the Royals as they make their run for the playoffs. At least, that’s what we all hope happens.
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