“Alex’s love for the game is evident in how hard he has worked to play through and recover from his numerous injuries.”
When looking back at his career from today, MLB’s success for Alex Gordon may seem like it was always a foregone conclusion but that is not the case. The road was long and winding and in doubt on multiple occasions. For his first two years, Alex looked like a young star trying to figure out the pros. He hit around league average. Then for the next few years a common, yet unexpected thing occurred. Instead of Alex figuring the majors out it seemed as though the league was figuring him out. His power numbers fell off a cliff. He began to suffer one injury after another. He even struggled to play third base. When Gordon began the 2010 season injured and then went on to spend a large chunk of that year in AAA the story of Alex Gordon seemed as though it would be written as a “What Could Have Been” kind of tale. Instead, Alex turned it into a baseball legend.
In 2011, Gordon would come out of the gate on fire during Spring Training. He had become a left fielder, and it was as though Clark Kent had walked through a phone booth on his path from third base to left field. He was now capable of anything. He was not just any left fielder, he was a left fielder that was faster than a speeding bullet, he would propel his body in all directions almost as if he could fly, and his arm seemed to send down lightning bolts on his foes. He threw out 20 runners on the bases that season. He would mash over 70 extra-base hits and bat over .300. And he would go on to win his first Gold Glove.
2011 would begin an awe-inspiring 5 year run for Alex. He was an above-average hitter each year, he compiled over 27 WAR (yes, non-geeks, that is a lot!) and he played left field just about as well as it has ever been played. And, damn, was it a joy to watch.
Alex’s love for the game is evident in how hard he has worked to play through and recover from his numerous injuries. It is clear how hard he worked to evolve from an infielder to an outfielder midway through his career. In the incredible shape he keeps himself in. Even in how he will lean into a pitch and take one for the team with a willingness that would make Don Baylor chuckle.
But, really, you don’t need to know any of that to know how much Alex Gordon loves baseball. You just need to watch him play the field. Watch him smile as he throws his body around, pushes his physical abilities to their greatest capabilities, crashes into the walls, leaps into the crowd. All for catches he still appears incredibly unlikely to ever catch. But, that’s the thing about Alex – he usually catches those ones too.