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Alex Gordon Makes All-Star Game Runoff Election, An Achievement in Itself

Is anyone else bummed they won't be getting anymore "Vote for Francoeur!" emails from the Royals? No, Francoeur did not make the All-Star team. I guess we failed him. We failed our leader. 

Another Royals outfielder, Alex Gordon, was included with four other finalists in the final vote thing, another publicity stunt and data mining exercise done by Major League Baseball. Though the occasion, along with most aspects of the game itself is fairly silly and ill-conceived, (it makes no sense that rosters produced in such a strange way, with myriad rules and restrictions would then decide something as important as home field in the World Series) it is nice for Gordon to be included. MLB isn't doing anyone any favors with their comparative stats pop-up, which is strictly batting average, HRs, and effing runs, RBIs and steals. Way to go, guys.

2011 - Alex Gordon 81 329 47 98 24 4 10 46 33 68 5 5 .298 .367 .486


Gordon only played in 74 games with the Royals last season, as he battled injuries and a front office that was determined to destroy him. Gordon was rushed back to the roster in April of 2010 for mushy reasons, then, after playing poorly for two weeks with an injured hand, he was demoted to AAA, where he would remain until late July. Gordon hit only .215/.315/.355 in 281 PAs last season. Or, as the Royals saw it, .215 with 8 HRs, 5 steals, 9 GIDPs, and only 20 RBIs.

Until Mike Moustakas becomes one, this is not a happy organization for low batting average/high walk rate players, and the Royals have been annoyed with Gordon from the beginning that, surprise, he profiled as a traditional thirdbaseman at the plate: lower BA, good walk totals, decent power. Gordon's comeback/breakout 2011 isn't much different from his 2008 campaign, minus some fluky good fortune in his batting average. 

That isn't meant to be dismissive of what Alex has done this season. It is meant to put it into context. He's been a) healthy and b) allowed to play regularly. And when he hit well batting average wise to open the season (he was at .339 to end April) all the pressure of a half-decades worth of fan and front office bitching was gone. 

With a strong all-around half-season, Gordon has been the most valuable position player on the Royals by nearly a full win. His WAR of 3.3 easily outpaces Melky's 2.4, the second place total. 

Because Gordon's walk rate is down significantly, as part of an attempt to also strikeout less, he doesn't have a bullet-proof approach or markless peripherals. (Yay bad hitting coaches!) Really, when you look at the data, it's hard to see what has really changed, other than a dash less Ks and BBs (really a net neutral trade off) and better luck on balls in play. His ISO is a tick up as well, but not dramatically so from previous levels. However, Gordon's defense in the outfield has been solid. Another small sample, but a hopeful sign.

So in sum, I reject the narrative that this is a new Alex Gordon. This is the old Alex Gordon, who because of a hot month was allowed to play every day by his backwards thinking managers. Great job, guys.