It is amazing that the Kansas City Royals were able to win as many games as they have recently with one of their top hitters, left fielder Alex Gordon, mired in a long term, horrific slump.
In his last 25 games, Gordon is hitting only .177, his OBP is .273, and his Slugging Percentage is absolutely awful at .208. Combine the last two stats and his OPS is a brutally bad .481. In those 25 games, Gordon has 96 at bats and 110 plate appearances, yet has only accumulated 20 total bases. No home runs, no triples, and only 3 doubles. He has walked 11 times but has struck out 22 times.
Just how bad has this stretch been? Over the same time frame (although not playing every day) Chris Getz‘ slash line reads .222/.300/.222/.522. Mike Moustakas‘ slash looks like this – .246/.292/.279/.571. Now do you understand just how bad Gordon has been over the past 25 games?
And it has been even worse in the 17 games of June – .154/.263/.185/.448! In those 17 June games, Gordon only has 12 total bases.
His numbers as a lead off and his numbers when he hit third are wildly different. When batting in the lead off spot, Gordon slash is .255/.309/.387/.695 in 51 games. He hit third for 18 games with a much rosier slash – .391/.449/.507/.956. He was moved back to the lead off spot when manager Ned Yost deemed no one else worthy of the lead off spot. It doesn’t appear as if Gordon is doing that well at it right now either.
Gordon is having all kinds of trouble with his power, as are most of the Royals’ hitters. Since hitting home runs in three consecutive games on May 7th, 8th,, and 9th, Gordon has gone 37 games without going deep. In fact, in those 37 games, he only has 8 extra base hits, all doubles, and only 3 coming since May 19th. On May 21st, his OPS topped out at .921. It has fallen steadily to its present level – .761.
Prior to May 22nd, Gordon had 21 multiple hit games, out of 42 games. He only has 4 in the 27 games since. Obviously, things are not right with Alex Gordon.
With all of the hitting travails suffered by so many of the Royals batters this season – Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Chris Getz, Jeff Francoeur, Alcides Escobar – Billy Butlerand Alex Gordon have been given a pass of sorts. Butler hasn’t really gotten going all season and Gordon started off so well, few recognize just how bad he has been for over a month now.
Royals’ legend George Brett was hired as the hitting coach on May 3oth to fix this anemic offense. So far, little progress has been made. Kansas City batted .253 in their awful May; .256 in June. The OBP is up slightly – .304 in May; .315 in June – but still is terrible. The Slugging Percentage is identical in June to what it was in May (.355), and significantly lower than in April (.393).
George Brett shouldn’t be expected to work miracles so soon because these are not good hitters. Butler and Gordon were supposed to be the exceptions but they are not performing anywhere near their capabilities. This team lacks a true lead off hitter, or even a reliable number two hitter. If Gordon were batting third and Butler fourth, who would be protecting them in the line-up? Only Salvador Perez seems to be making solid contact on a regular basis, although we are starting to see slight signs of life from Eric Hosmer finally.
Dayton Moore overhauled a rotation that was not competitive but he left the offense alone and the Royals are paying the price now. Despite the fact they fought back to .500 after being 9 games under, and in a rather short time, is just fool’s gold. No matter how good the pitching is, and the Royals pitching has been terrific, it is going to be very difficult to win games with no hitting. The fact that Moore seems oblivious to their offensive inadequacies just makes the situation even more unbearable.
So what should the Royals do about Alex Gordon. Do they leave him to flounder uncomfortably in the lead off spot just because he was successful there at one time? Do they leave him there and hope he figures it out, despite the fact that when he leads off a game his slash is the worst kind of awful – .109/.196/.130/.327. Read that line again, just to make sure you are seeing things correctly – .109/.196/.130/.327! In fact, when Gordon bats lead off, he only has 5 hits all season (51 PA) to start a game.
Gordon doesn’t appear to like leading off any inning, not just the first inning. Here is his slash when he leads off any inning – .187/.253/.264/.516 in (99 PA). This is the guy the Royals deem as their best option to bat lead off?
Do the Royals have another candidate to bat lead off? No, not really. At this point, maybe Yost should try Hosmer there. Better yet, let’s go back in time six months so Dayton Moore can sign Michael Bourn. The Royals line-up is such a mess right now, no real solution jumps out. One thing is crystal clear and that is Alex Gordon should not be batting lead off for the Kansas City Royals.
The truth about Alex Gordon is that he is in a terrible slump, and that he has not been successful leading off games. The shocking part of it is just how bad, and long, the slump has been, and how incompetent he has been batting first in games. .109/.196/.130/.327 is shockingly terrible. It is also shocking that the Royals don’t even know it.