After being selected with the second overall pick of the 2005 MLB draft, Alex Gordon proceeded to mash in 2006 at AA ball before earning a starting job for the 2007 season. Royals followers know the rest of the story. Gordon had a couple decent seasons before dealing with injuries and getting yanked back and forth between AAA Omaha and Kansas City. Eventually, Gordon was moved to left field where he has excelled ever since. After Gordon’s 2011 breakout, he had an excellent, though not quite as good, 2012. This led people to believe that Gordon would never have a season quite like 2011 again. However, there is reason to believe that Gordon will perform in 2013 similar to how he performed in 2011.
In the third game of the 2011 season, Gordon went 4-6 with a double and a walk. This was the start of a 19 game hitting streak. Over the first 22 games of the 2011 season, Gordon hit .351/.402/.521 before finishing the season at .303/.376/.502. What follows is a table of Gordon’s last three seasons separated into the first 22 games, the rest of the season (ROS) and the composite line.
*2012 includes Gordon’s first 23 games because he was a pinch hitter once during that stretch.
If you compare the ROS lines from 2011 to 2012, you see a decline in Slugging% but everything else is pretty much identical. After Gordon’s early 2012 slump, he was pretty close to the same hitter. The main difference between the two lines was a fast start. As you can see in the chart above, Gordon’s start to 2013 comes closer to 2011 than 2012. Gordon’s power drop from 2012 appears to be gone as he is hitting the ball with authority. Seriously, check out his grand slam from the extra innings game against Detroit.
Is there cause for concern? Maybe a little. Gordon is going to need to post better walk rates if he hopes to keep that OBP up. He’s currently carrying a .414 BABIP which is about 50 or 60 points higher than he’ll probably end up. The batting average will drop similar to the way it dropped after the first 22 games of 2011. However, Gordon has maintained an OBP almost exactly 70 points over his batting average the last couple seasons. If Gordon’s batting average regresses negatively to the mean, then his walk rate should also regress positively towards the mean.
Let’s say that Gordon ends up playing 155 games this year. If he hits the same over the rest of the season as he did in 2011, Gordon will end up with around a .300/.372/.504 triple slash line. Does that look familiar? It should, because that line is almost identical to where Gordon finished his 2011.
While many think that Alex Gordon won’t be able to replicate the success of his 2011 season, the hot start he has had thus far means that he could very well match or even possibly exceed that line. Over the past couple seasons, Gordon has been one of two consistent forces in the Royals lineup (the other being Billy Butler) and if he can continue to hit this year, then we should expect another year of excellent production from the Royals left fielder.