May 20, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon (4) runs into the fence after making a leaping catch against the Cincinnati Reds Todd Frazier (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
The most established player on the team is Alex Gordon with two consecutive all-star game appearances to go with four Gold Gloves, and one Platinum Glove (for being the best defensive player in the A.L). Alex Gordon is a player who overcame the “bust” label by turning himself into the best defensive left fielder in the game. His performance has as much to do with talent as it does his willingness to work at his craft and crash into walls.
Let’s take a look at Alex Gordon’s latest on field feat:
Alex Gordon’s selflessness is so obvious, even his four-year-old son has picked up on it. Gordon told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
"“My little boy always does it,” Gordon said. “He says ‘Hey, here goes Alex Gordon,’ and he runs into the wall. … He does it just like daddy. He runs into the wall, falls down and lays there for about 10 seconds.”"
Alex Gordon isn’t the only one on the KC Royals who gives up his body for the team. EVERYONE does it on defense. The most spectacular is centerfielder Lorenzo Cain, who wowed baseball fans across the globe with his exploits in center during the 2014 playoffs.
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What was even more amazing was Cain’s lack of ego. When the Kansas City Royals got a late lead last October, Yost frequently brought in Jarrod Dyson as a defensive substitute and moved the acrobatic Cain to right field.
How many guys as good as Lorenzo Cain would think nothing of moving aside on the big stage because the manager thought his team played better defense that way?
In theory, everyone would say, “Yes”. In practice, most guys with Cain’s defensive talent would mope a bit. But Lorenzo Cain still made the same fantastic plays in right that he did in center.
This year, manager Ned Yost has stopped moving Cain out of centerfield in the late innings, most likely because the move cost his centerfielder a well-deserved Gold Glove in 2014.
What makes the KC Royals special, and very fun to watch, is Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain aren’t the only defenders who go all-out. Every position player on the field is an above-average defender. As a team, the Kansas City Royals defense ranks no. 1 according to Baseball Prospectus’ Defensive Efficiency Ratings (DEF), Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR).
The KC Royals pick the ball better than any other team, any way you measure it.
Lone gone are the days of Yunieski Betancourt and his “Olay!” defense on any ball hit more than three steps away.
Next: Ned Yost Is Getting The Most Out Of His Offense