Alex Gordon named KC Royals’ best “recent” draft pick

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images /

Alex Gordon may have taken a while to live up to his potential, but the KC Royals can be satisfied with picking him so high in the 2005 draft.

When the KC Royals selected former Nebraska standout Alex Gordon with the second overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, they likely expected something other than what they ended up with. That isn’t a bad thing, but rather a testament to Gordon’s story and just how much progress he made throughout his career.

Gordon was a late bloomer, especially according to top-five pick standards. After being sent down to the minor leagues in 2010 and experiencing a position shift from third base to left field, he was able to turn his career around. Demoting him and sending him to the outfield turned out to be one of the best decisions the organization has made in the past decade. It created a monster.

A recent article listed each AL Central team’s best draft pick currently on the team. While Whit Merrifield drew a little bit of consideration, Gordon was the easy pick given how good he was in his prime. Merrifield also tipped his cap to Gordon’s leadership and preparation, saying, “If you want to know how to conduct yourself as a professional baseball player, you just have to look at Alex’s daily routine. He gives everything he’s got every minute he’s at the ballpark.”

Gordon’s five-year peak made him one of the best players in all of baseball. In 728 games from 2011-2015, he posted a .281/.359/.450 line with an OPS+ of 121. He also made countless highlight plays in the outfield, winning four Gold Gloves and saving 86 runs in that timeframe. Back-to-back-to-back All-Star appearances were the icing on the cake.

Gordon signed a four-year, $72 million contract extension with the Royals in early 2016. He struggled immensely in the first two years of the deal before slowly becoming an acceptable player by the end of it. He re-upped with the team for the 2020 season, but it’s not known how much longer he’ll play. Kansas City will face a tough decision this winter — is he worth bringing back for yet another year?

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Probably not. But don’t let that, combined with essentially what’s been a duality of a career, take away from how much of a treat it was to watch Alex Gordon at his best. It was a shorter-lived peak than most upper-echelon players and maybe he was never a traditional superstar, but you would’ve been hard-pressed to find many better outfielders during his prime.