As fans of the Kansas City Royals, we all know how valuable Alex Gordon has been to this team over the course of his career. Is it possible that Gordon is one of the most valuable players in the Major Leagues?
There are all kinds of stats that go into applying value to players in baseball. Home runs, Runs Batted In, etc. This list could go on forever. One of these metrics is Wins Above Replacement. WAR takes into account offensive, defensive, and base running aspects of the game in comparison to a replacement level player.
Here is the definition of WAR as published on Fangraphs.com:
Take wRAA, UBR & wSB, and UZR (which express offensive, base running, and defensive value in runs above average) and add them together. Add in a positional adjustment, since some positions are tougher to play than others, and then convert the numbers so that they’re not based on league average, but on replacement level (which is the value a team would lose if they had to replace that player with a “replacement” player – a minor leaguer or someone from the waiver wire). Convert the run value to wins (10 runs = 1 win) and voila, finished!
Unless you are really into sabermetrics and statistics, a lot of that is gibberish. It is basically an attempt to consolidate all of a players skills into one number, and to quantify players’ value in relation to how much better a player would be than an average, replacement player.
According to Fangraphs, Alex Gordon is the 5th most valuable player in the Major Leagues since the start of the 2011 season. Gordon has earned a WAR of 19.9. The only players with a higher WAR are Mike Trout (25.9), Miguel Cabrera (24.0), Andrew McCutchen (23.6), and Robinson Cano (21.2).
Gordon’s ranking of 5th makes him maybe the most underrated and unheralded star in the game today.
What makes Gordon unique on this list is that he has earned his WAR as much for his glove as his bat. In those 3 plus seasons, Gordon ranks 55th in home runs (66), 2nd in doubles (144), 5th in runs scored (327), 28th in RBI (280), 40th in BA, 34th in OBP (.359), 57th in Slugging Percentage (.460), and 62 in steals (43).
As a whole, these offensive numbers are not that impressive. Good, but nothing to get overly excited about.
Where Gordon makes up the difference is with his glove. He has won three straight Gold Gloves and is well on his way to a fourth this season. In this time frame, Gordon has accumulated the second highest Ultimate Zone Rating in the Majors at 54.3. Only Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves has a better UZR, and he is at 60.8.
In this time period, Gordon has 59 assists (next highest is 43), and only 6 errors (3 fielding, 3 throwing). He has a .995 Fielding Percentage, 4th in the league. No one above him is within 140 Put Outs of Gordon. For an explanation of UZR, click here.
While Gordon is a decent offensive player, he has become an elite left fielder. The combination has made him incredibly valuable to the Royals, and an underrated player in general. Royals fans who get to watch Gordon’s hustle and professionalism every single day know he is a tremendous baseball player.
Now the numbers are confirming what we already knew. Alex Gordon is the best all around player for the Kansas City Royals.