Alex Gordon's remarkable (and eventually expensive) pace
You may have seen today’s column, taking the inventory of the Royals at the halfway point of this season.
The biggest positive is very clearly Alex Gordon, who on his fifth try is finally having the breakout season we’ve all been expecting.
Gordon is batting .294/.363/.481. As my friend Rustin Dodd points out, that’s on pace for the best season by a Royals outfielder since Carlos Beltran. It really is remarkable how a solid few months can take a guy from tired whipping boy to the center of the Royals’ future, but think of it like this:
Gordon is currently tracking about 46 doubles, eight triples, 18 homers, 10 steals, 88 RBIs and 90 runs.
There is some serious Baseball-Reference voodoo going on here, but you still might be interested to see the complete list of players who’ve matched those numbers over an entire season.
Lou Gehrig (1927), Rogers Hornsby (1922), Chuck Klein (1932), Babe Herman (1930), Robin Yount (1982), Jack Clark (1978), Hal McRae (1977), Al Simmons (1926) and George Sisler (1920).
The breakdown there is goofy enough that we’ll stop from calling it a historic pace, but it does say something that nobody’s done it in nearly 30 years.
However you want to express it statistically, Gordon has been among the best left fielders in baseball. He leads the bigs in outfield assists, his .844 OPS is best in the American League*, and his 2.8 WAR is tied with Brett Gardner for second behind Ryan Braun.
* Should’ve been clearer…best among AL left fielders.
If you use the general rule of $4.5 million per WAR, that’s a pace for a $25 million season on the open market.
Again, there’s some statistical witchcraft going on here, and Gordon would get less than half that in free agency, but if you think it’s time for the Royals to be internally discussing a long-term deal, you’re right.