Key Stats: When I think of Alex Gordon I think of the little engine that could. Not that Gordon is a small guy, at 6’2″ and 220 the guy could break me (I’m 6’1″ and 175, but probably have a higher percentage of fat). Gordon is the kind of player that people were always projecting for that breakout season that never came. He had power, speed, good defense… he could never get it all together at the major league level, he could never quite get all the way up that mountain. After 4 years of heart break Gordon delivered in a big way, giving us 22 HR, 96 Runs, 81 RBI and 17 steals. Add on a tasty .303 AVG and .376 OBP, and this is a 5 category stud that people scrambled for to claim off the waiver wire last year.
Skeptics Say: The speed and power have always been there, but where did that batting average come from? It appears to be lifted by a career high .358 BABIP. He has had higher BABIP in various handful appearances in the minors, but the closest he came at the major league level was .303 in 2007, which led to a .247 AVG. high BABIP for players with speed isn’t unheard of, but they are usually in the .330ish range, not almost .360. We only have one good year to look at though, and putting BABIP up against his batted ball data, does show a favorable outcome (career low in fly ball rate, leading to more grounds and liners) but it shouldn’t account for it being that high. Regression in the batting average department is almost a sure thing. As far as his base running is concerned he was caught stealing 8 times in only 25 attempts, which isn’t terribly efficient, so he might not be getting a green light for that as often.
Peer Comparison: I think calling Alex Gordon a poor man’s Andrew McCutchen for fantasy purposes is a pretty fair assessment. Both guys will get you speed and power on your team, with ‘Cutch getting you an edge in speed. As far as I’m concerned their power is a coin flip. However McCutchen is probably going to go in the 2nd or 3rd round of drafts (10 team), you can probably get Gordon in round 5 or 6, possibly being a better value pick.
Team Outlook: Gordon was the Royals lead off man last year, but could be removed from that spot in favor of Lorenzo Cain. I’m not worried about him being moved lower in the lineup so long as he isn’t batting 8th or 9th. As I mentioned previously he isn’t overly efficient on the base paths, so if he is moved down I wouldn’t expect much more than 14 or 15 steals this year. On the plus side, he could see in increase in RBI’s.
Projection: Like I said before, we all knew Gordon had power and speed, but I really think that BABIP is just too high to be something he can repeat in 2012. I don’t think that means he is going to drop all the way back to his .240 average days either…
.280 AVG, 21 HR, 90 RBI, 78 Runs, 14 steals, .368 OBP, .838 OPS in 650 AB’s