KC Royals: Better to Burn Out of Fade Away? – Alex Gordon
I love Alex Gordon. He will undoubtedly be the first KC Royals player that I actively follow every step of their career.
I was excited when he was drafted. “We got the next George Brett!” I went to a handful of his minor league games his first year. I was there for his Major League debut against the Red Sox. I was one of 40,000 that gave him a standing ovation as he walked up for his first at bat as a member of the KC Royals.
There was no doubt that Gordo was going to be the team’s savior. That first at bat was incredible. First inning, bases loaded, Curt Schilling. Gordon ended up striking out, but he battled one of the game’s best SPs. Everyone was excited. Then he struggled a bit.
His defense at third base suffered. He was not hitting the same as he had throughout his college and minor league years. The team stuck with him.
During that time the KC Royals drafted a player by the name of Mike Moustakas. Moose was getting close to MLB ready. The problem, he also played third base. Gordo would be sent to the minors to learn to play the outfield.
How about becoming a 3x All-Star, a 4x Gold Glove winner, a Platinum Glove winner and a World Series hero. Anyone remember this?
After the magical 2015 championship season Gordon was a free agent. He dipped his toe into the free agent waters only to sign the largest contract in KC Royals history. Everyone, including myself, was over the moon. The team had been to two straight World Series, winning one. With the face of the franchise set to play out his career in Blue it looked like perhaps there could be a dynasty in Kansas City.
Then there was the collision.
Early in the 2016 season Gordon and Moustakas would both chase a ball in foul territory. You see how that went. Moose would be out the rest of the year with an ACL tear and Gordo would miss a month with a broken wrist.
Since then Gordon has simply not been the same. After returning from injury he slashed .220/.312/.380 for 2016. Many attributed the low numbers to Alex working his way back from injury and assumed that the second year of his record setting deal would bring a return to form.
2017 has not gone as planned. While Gordon continues to be a reliable OF asset, his struggles at the plate continue. He currently does not appear to even be a #9 hitter, regardless of what he brings on defense.
Alex was sporting a .172/.282/.202 line heading into today. He also has yet to visit Dongtown, which is sad because his fellow injury mate appears to have established roots there. (Moose has bounced back big time from his injury and is currently on pace to break the team record for home runs)
Sure you can say it’s a small sample size. The facts are that Gordon has a total of 5 extra base hits all year, all of them doubles. He has 9 RBIs. This is not the performance you can tolerate from your highest paid player.
What are the options though?
Regardless of his performance for fans of Alex such as myself, we dread what could happen. This is a player who came up and helped transform the KC Royals from the laughing stock of baseball into champions.
His contract means any choice Ned Yost or Dayton Moore might make becomes extremely difficult. Kansas City is not the kind of market that can swallow the financial loss it would take to cut ties. There may be teams that would be willing to add Gordon to their roster, but KC would basically have to give him away.
There are no great answers at this point.
The best may be to continue to play him. Get the most out of his still excellent defense and hope that things turn around at the plate. It is tough.
For me I will continue to support Gordo, I rooted for players much worse over the years. I will look for rays of hope, like today where Alex went 1 for 3 with a BB and an RBI to help the KC Royals beat the Indians 12-5.
Alex Gordon embodies the team slogan of #RaisedRoyal, hopefully he stills has some heroics left in him.
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What do you think Royals Nation? Where does Alex Gordon and the KC Royals go from here?