KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals breaks his bat as he hits a RBI single in the fourth inning during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Going into the 2011 season, not a lot was expect from Alex Gordon. Some crazy fans even suggested that the best course of action may be trading him to another team. We all know what happened. Alex Gordon put up one of the greatest seasons statistically ever as a Royal. The breakout was nearly unprecedented.
To find out how often players have this level of breakout, I wanted to collect players who were similar in age and production. To get the numbers, I used historic Marcel projections. While Marcels may not be the most robust projection system, they are available to back to 1901. Marcels only looks at offensive numbers, so no defensive numbers were involved. I selected players which were similar to Alex in Age, OPS and Reliability (how much of Alex's stats are regressed to league average - basically how may PAs of data are used for the projection). Here are Alex's 2008, 2009, 2010 stats and his projection for 2011:
While he had a decent 2008, his last two seasons, which are weighted more, were not as good.
Then I found all players since 1980 who had the same projected OPS (+/- 0.010), Age (+/- 1 year) and reliability (+/- 0.05). 140 players made the list. Alex had the forth highest OPS. He had the highest OPS for those players with over 600 ABs. Here is a list of the top 12 players with over 400 ABs:
|First Name||Last Name||Age||Year||AB||OPS|
The list is full of some decent players, but not many Hall of Famers or near Hall of Famers. Now here is a look at how the players performed in the season after the breakout season.
|First Name||Last Name||Year||OPS||AB||OPS||Difference|
8 of the 11 players saw their production decrease with the average decrease being a 0.025. The historic drop is not that bad. I expected some level of regression in 2012 after Alex posted a 0.358 BABIP last season, but it may be horrible.
Alex Gordon had an unprecedented breakout season in 2011. While people should expect some level of regression in 2012, historically the drop in production has been limited.