Kansas City Royals: The Alex Gordon Story Takes Another Turn

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 6: Alex Gordon /

Since signing his long-term contract with the Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon has puzzled everyone. What looked like a bright career quickly turned into a frustrating career.

Alex Gordon has had an interesting career since being drafted No.2 overall in the 2005 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. The Nebraska Cornhusker was going to be the next great thing in Kansas City. The hope was he was going to be the Royals best third baseman since George Brett.

The Beginning

It did not take long before he made the jump to the big leagues. In 2007, Gordon made his much-anticipated debut. That year saw him go .247/.314/.411 over 151 games. He showed solid power as well, hitting 15 home runs, 36 doubles, and four triples.

The numbers increased a bit in 2008, slashing a .260/.351/.432 over 134 games. Unfortunately, instead of his numbers continuing to grow, they started falling. Over the next two years, Gordon slashed a combined .222/.318/.365 over 123 games. However, his 2009 season was derailed when he suffered a torn labrum that held him out for three months.

It seemed that the “future” was not going to be bright for Gordon. Until he decided to make a move that saved his career.

The Middle

Gordon decided that he needed to essentially reset his career. In order to do this, Gordon decided it was time to change things up and find a “new home”. He spent the offseason and part of the 2010 season learning how to play left field.

The Alex Gordon that debuted in 2011 was perfect. He finished the year slashing an impressive .303/.376/.502 over 151 games. During those games, he hit 23 home runs, four triples, and 45 doubles, all career highs. He also won his first Gold Glove for all left fielders in the American League. Due to his great 2011 season, Gordon signed an extension with the Royals that was four-years/$37.5 million. Which turned out to be a steal for what he did over the next four seasons.

Over the next four years, Gordon slashed a solid .275/.354/.436 over 577 games. During that time he was named to three consecutive All-Star Games (2013-2015), received three Gold Gloves for left fielders, and he won the Platinum Glove for Best Defensive Player in the American League in 2014.

He also helped lead the Royals to two World Series, winning one in 2015 where he hit the game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the red-hot Jeurys Familia.

Gordon was a human highlight reel once he moved to left field. He was seen as one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. His time at third base also paid dividends for him when it comes to off-balance throws and crazy diving catches.

The End

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Sometimes it slowly comes to an end, other times the door seems to slam shut. For Gordon, it almost seems to have slammed shut. The biggest let down is that all of this seems to be stemming from injury, rather than age.

Since signing his four-years/$72 million deal in 2016 he has not looked the same. Since his career reset, from 2011-2015 Gordon slashed a .281/.356/.450, appeared in three All-Star Games, won four Gold Gloves, and won a Platinum Glove in 2014. He honestly showed little regression too.

After signing his contract extension, and suffering two major injuries, Gordon has slashed a miserable .213/.300/.343 with one Gold Glove in 2017. This was not gradual. This was an immediate decline.

Gordon’s latest injury is one he seems to want to try and play through after restings. However, based off of how he described the injury, it definitely does not sound like the best choice.

The fact that this injury is comparable to his 2009 labral tear that required him to have surgery and miss three months, and he was 25 at that time is not good. The math is easy here. He is nearly 10 years older than he was with a similar injury and he is trying to come back quicker than he did when he was younger. To me, that is probably the wrong choice.

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Final Thoughts

When you look at the numbers, the drop off honestly surprises me. He may have been 32-years-old when he signed his extension, and we all knew that the Royals would not get the value of the whole contract, but I do not think people thought it would be this bad. The Royals are getting hardly any value out of Gordon under this current contract.

To me, Gordon has three realistic options.

  1. Take a rehab stint in Omaha for an extended time. Try and figure out how to adapt at the plate to extend his career.
  2. Have surgery. Fully recover and take time off. Come back in 2019 and hope that his body has had time to refresh and give the Royals a 100% Gordon. Who knows, a solid 2019 might find him a new, longer contract with another team when he becomes a free-agent.
  3. Retire. It may seem like a dramatic statement, but his body seems to be breaking down and offensively he does not seem to have it anymore offensively. Defensively, he is still one of the best but is not enough to keep him in the league.

Obviously, Gordon is going to try and do the hidden “option four” which is going on a 10-day DL stint and come back quickly. However, that may not be what is best for him or the Royals. It might be time to have a real conversation if you are the Royals. Gordon has a high-motor and can be great. However, a high-motor that leaks can only take so many patch jobs before it has to be scrapped.

So what do you think Royals fans? Is Alex Gordon trying to force a choice that is the wrong one? If you were Gordon, which one is the most realistic choice in your opinion? Let us know below!