|Life's gettin' interesting in KC.|
A smarter person (or perhaps a clairvoyant), would have picked Alex Gordon to break-out prior to last season, but most saw him as yet another highly touted prospect lost in the fold. Gordon had a phenomenal 2011, yet many remain hesitant pegging him to continue his superior play. I don't believe 2011 to be his outlier season.
Alex Gordon set career highs in everything in 2011. Upon being drafted with the first overall pick in 2005, the Royals believed him capable of producing at this level, just much sooner. I had the pleasure of watching Gordon lead the Cornhuskers of Nebraska through the Super Regionals in his final collegiate season (2005), and the experience made me dream of being a 20th century baseball scout. He felt like a star. And now he is a star, if a few years late. Some players take longer to mature and adjust than others, which is unfortunate in the case of Gordon. He sure can mash the ball.
Gordon is entering his prime years, having just turned 28 in February. While it is prudent not to expect a duplication of his 2011 success, I don't think it foolhardy. He's always had the skills and makeup, and his head and discipline have caught up.
.303/.376/.502 23 HR 45 2B 6.9 fWAR
Don't expect his batting average to remain above .300, as his .358 BABIP will most likely fall closer to league-average (approx. .300). However, his OBP and SLG should remain consistent, if not improve. Gordon still strikes out too much and doesn't walk enough, but his patience at the plate is improving, and his power isn't going anywhere.
Gordon's offense clicked once he moved to the outfield. This may be coincidence and timing, or could suggest he is far more comfortable away from the volatile hot corner. He even managed to snag a Gold Glove in 2011, for what it's worth. With the Royals getting better, Gordon will have a better lineup around him, as well as the added excitement of a fanbase energized by the prospect of a contending club. Gordon is poised to be one of the elite offensive players in the American League just as people are starting to pay attention.
Bill James Prediction: .276/.361/.467
My non-scholarly prediction: .275/.375/.501 29 HR