With the 2018 season mercifully winding down, the ridiculous comment by Ned Yost about not having enough at-bats for AAA star Frank Schwindel has been eating at me. Why can’t Ned find some “at-bats” for a player who could be part of the Royals future? The biggest players in this whole charade are Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon. Both were big parts of the Royals glorious past, but neither are part of the Royals future. Escobar’s offensive failures are so bad and well documented by others on Royals Review, that I don’t see any need to rehash them in this post. But Gordon is a different story. Some on this board see Gordon as a slam dunk, Royals Hall of Famer. Others think that he should have a statue erected upon retirement. Let’s examine the good, bad and ugly of Alex Gordon.
For several years, I have wished that the Royals would be operated more like the New England Patriots. The Patriots typically do not re-sign their aging stars, often releasing them or trading them to saps like the Cleveland Browns. As we’ve come to know David Glass is not Robert Craft and Dayton Moore and Ned Yost are not Bill Belichick. The Royals often operate like the anti-Patriots, hanging onto their aging stars, despite overwhelming evidence of decline and even rewarding them with outlandish contracts.
Since Dayton Moore overpaid for Gordon with his four-year, $72 million-dollar contract, he has hit .223 while averaging 12 home runs and 42 RBI per season. His total production in the last three seasons has been 37 home runs and 125 RBI, which is essentially one season of Mike Trout. In the Gordon contract negotiations, Moore was primarily bidding against himself, though the White Sox were rumored to be interested. Fortunately for Moore and Royals fans, the Padres, who could be described as the Cleveland Browns of MLB, prevented Kansas City from making another huge salary blunder by signing away Eric Hosmer.
Gordon had a very respectable stretch from 2011 to 2014, in which he hit .283 and averaged 19 home runs and 79 RBI per season. Those are good, solid numbers but certainly not superstar type numbers. Gordon’s stellar defense, which includes five Gold Gloves, and a strong arm, added to his resume. Gordon was a three time All-Star (2013-2014-2015) and picked up MVP votes in two different seasons. That production lands him in the top fifty Royals of all time and probably in the top twenty-five of all time. Let’s go a step further and compare the production of three Royal outfielders.
Listed below is a 162-game average of the entire career production of three outfielders during their time with Kansas City.
Slash Line AB Hits Runs BB HR RBI SB OPS
A: .257/.338/.415 591 152 81 64 18 68 11 .753
B: .289/.356/.427 620 179 93 58 11 72 9 .783
C: .292/.347/.438 616 180 102 55 13 71 31 .785
Who’s the better player? Player C appears to be the best player, followed closely by player number B and coming in last would be player A. Who are these guys?
Player C is Johnny Damon. Damon had a terrific, if somewhat short (six year) career for Kansas City. He continued to perform well in stops with Oakland, Boston, New York and three other teams at the tail end of his career, which ended in 2012 with Damon collecting 2,769 hits.
Player B is David DeJesus, who also had a terrific, if somewhat underappreciated eight-year career in Kansas City. Player A is Gordon. After spending the weekend slicing and dicing Gordon’s career stats, I’ve concluded, however unpopular it may be, that Gordon does not deserve a statue and should not be considered for induction into the Royals Hall of Fame. Statues should be reserved for the icons of a franchise: players like Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Babe Ruth, George Brett and Hank Aaron.
Alex Gordon has had a terrific career in Kansas City. His defense has been a joy to watch. He hit one of the biggest home runs in Royals history in game one of the 2015 World Series. He’s been immensely popular with the fans and a great representative of the Royals community, but you don’t put up statues for players who slash .257/.339/.415 in their career. As much as I love Alex Gordon, that’s not Royals Hall of Fame production either. Gordon’s baseball career is essentially over. The Royals are stuck with him for one more season, unless Gordon does the honorable thing and retires (Gil Meche comes to mind), but I don’t expect him to do that. Ned could sit him or regulate him to a backup role, but I don’t think Ned has the guts or brains to do that. Gordon will be thirty-five when the 2019 season starts. His numbers are not going to improve and having him in the lineup only stunts the growth of the franchise.