How Alex Gordon can crack the KC Royals’ top 5 in career WAR

Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images /

It isn’t very likely, but there’s still a chance Alex Gordon can finish his career in the top 5 for career WAR with the KC Royals.

It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Alex Gordon may be in the twilight of his career with the KC Royals, but that doesn’t mean he can’t go out with a bang.

After two horrible seasons in a row (2016 and 2017) and a ho-hum 2018 campaign, the seven-time Gold Glove winner put together his best campaign in years last season. In 150 games, Gordon hit .266 and posted an OPS+ of 96. His defense wasn’t quite what we’ve come to expect but nevertheless, he was still above average in left field.

It was a pleasant surprise for KC Royals fans. Gordon signed an astronomical contract ahead of the 2016 season that he immediately made look like a mistake on behalf of the team. While he’ll never live up to the value of the deal, it was nice to see him put things back together in 2019. He then held off retirement for at least another season, opting to sign a one-year deal to return to the team.

Per the Baseball-Reference leaderboards, Gordon currently ranks seventh in club history in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 35.0. In sixth place is Mark Gubicza with 38.0 and in front of him is Bret Saberhagen with 40.7. This means that in order for Gordon to finish his career with the Royals in the top 5, he’ll have to be worth at least 5.7 additional wins. Is it possible for him to do it?

Technically speaking: yes. Realistically speaking: no way. Gordon is 36 years old and was worth just 1.3 wins in what was viewed as a resurgent 2019 season. He’d have to produce at that level for nearly five more years just to narrowly beat out Saberhagen’s career total. Even if he improved to being a two-win player, it would take him three years to do the same thing. It just doesn’t seem feasible.

Father time isn’t on Gordon’s side anymore. Had he been better in 2016 and 2017 (and maybe even the year after), we’d likely be having a different conversation. If the required WAR total was closer to two or three, there’d be a much higher chance. But unless you anticipate Gordon sticking around for five-plus years and not aging a bit, it simply isn’t going to happen.

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With that said, Alex Gordon is still one of the greatest KC Royals ever. He’ll go down as one of the most iconic players the franchise and its fans have ever seen. He doesn’t need fifth- or sixth-place finish in WAR to validate that.