Kansas City Royals: Where does Alex Gordon rank all-time for the franchise?
After 14 years with the Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon is one of the best hitters in franchise history.
Kansas City Royals and Alex Gordon have had an amazing and eventful decade and a half relationship. It all began when he was drafted second overall in 2005, and after just 16 games in the Arizona Fall League and one season at AA, he was rushed to the majors.
The Royals were immersed in one of their worst stretches in franchise history and after he dominated AA to the tune of .325/.427/.588/1.016, with 29 home runs and 101 RBI in 2006, it was no wonder Royals’ management and fans looked upon Gordon as the savior of the franchise.
Unfortunately, Gordon never matched those numbers in the major leagues. Gordon had a few stints in the minors over the next few seasons, and he always dominated. Counting rehab assignments, he played 252 games in the minors with 1,136 plate appearances. His slash was .324/.443/.576./1.018, with 50 homers and 182 RBI. He was an outstanding minor league hitter.
In the majors, his home run power never developed. He topped out at 23 in 2011 and had just two other seasons with more than 17. His batting went over .294 one time – .303, again in 2011 – and he hit under .250 in seven seasons.
He struck out entirely too much for a player with so little home run power. He whiffed more than 100 times ten times, and the seasons he didn’t top that mark were those in which he missed significant playing time due to injuries and demotions.
His major league OPS was 270 points below his minor league number. His On-Base Percentage was 89 points lower as he rarely walked. His Slugging Percentage was 166 points lower.
It is fair to say in many ways, Alex Gordon never lived up to his hype and potential as a major league hitter.
That does not mean Gordon didn’t do some things very well. He hit 357 doubles in his career, with six seasons over 30, and he led the majors with 51 in 2012.
He was hit by a pitch a franchise-leading 121 times, including 19 times in 2019. He scored 867 runs, and in one four-year stretch from 2011 through 2014, and he averaged 93 runs a season.
As a third baseman, he struggled after his rookie year. He amassed an Ultimate Zone Rating of 6.2 that season, but over the next three, his UZR was an abysmal -10.1. He moved to leftfield, and the rest is history.
From 2010 through 2020, his accumulated UZR was 94.5 in left, by far the best in the majors over that time. Of all MLB outfielders over that decade, Gordon had the highest UZR other than Jason Heyward. Gordon committed just 18 errors in the outfield in his career, a remarkable number considering he played over 12,000 innings in the grass.
He also had 102 assists from the outfield, leading the majors over that same timeframe. The stats didn’t lie, and Gordon was rewarded with seven Gold Gloves.
Where does Alex Gordon rank overall for the Kansas City Royals?
So, where does Alex Gordon rank overall with for the Royals over their franchise history? Here is where he ranks in some specific categories:
- Games – sixth – 1,753
- Hits – sixth – 1,643
- Doubles – fifth – 357
- Home Runs – fourth – 190
- Runs Scored – sixth – 867
- Runs Batted In – sixth – 749
- Wins Above Replacement – fourth (hitters), eighth overall (all players) – 32.4
Obviously, Gordon is among the top five of six hitters in team history for accumulated stats. His defense pushes him a bit higher still. Two World Series appearances and a World Championship solidify his place in Royals’ history forever.
There may be some discussion on whether or not Gordon’s number should be retired by the franchise. Only George Brett, Frank White, and Dick Houser hold that distinction (as well as Jackie Robinson). The biggest argument against Gordon, in this case, is that Amos Otis’ number isn’t retired. Otis has a higher WAR (42.0) and ranks ahead of Gordon in several offensive categories.
Otis was a fine defensive player himself, earning three Gold Gloves of his own. In 22 postseason games, Otis far outperformed Gordon statistically, including a phenomenal slash line – .478/.538/.957/.1.495 in a losing effort in the 1980 World Series.
Still, Gordon has a ring and this unbelievable moment in the 2015 World Series, courtesy of MLB.com:
Recency bias may convince the Royals to retire Gordon’s number, and a strong argument can certainly be made to support that decision. It isn’t etched in stone that he is clearly the third-best player in franchise history, but his defense, loyalty, longevity, championship ring, and World Series heroics could push him to that status.
Without a doubt, he is a Royals’ great. However, there is always a tiny bit of doubt that he underachieved as a hitter based on his potential in college and the minors. That may be nit-picking just a little, but it is a legitimate argument against his number’s retirement, as is the fact Otis’ number isn’t retired.
Regardless, Alex Gordon will deservedly go down as one of the favorite players ever to don the Kansas City Royals’ uniform. Fans are going to miss him!