Sometimes a player is good, not great but good. In those instances if he plays for a big market team everyone knows his name and is happy to roster him on draft day. However, if that player dons the cap of a small market team he's often overlooked on draft day. When that same player never really lived up to the expectation that he would be a “franchise” player, and with those expectations still lingering about, folks often fail to accept the player for the goodness that he brings. When that player has one great season, then fails to match that effort, he's further marginalized. That just might be the case for the subject of this review – Alex Gordon.
Let me start by breaking things down number-wise with Gordon by comparing him to other outfielders.
Gordon stole 11 bases in 2013. That's the same number as Puig, Harper and Ben Zobrist.
Remember when I talked about perception at the top? Perhaps Gordon was a bit better than “good” in 2013 after all huh? In fact, he's been really good for 3-straight years now.
How many players, regardless of position, have hit 14 homers with 72 RBIs, 90 runs and 10 steals in each of the past three years? Here's an answer that will likely amaze you... one. Only Alex Gordon, Mr. Good, has gone 14-72-90-10 each of the past thee seasons.
Hopefully we're on our way to dispelling the belief that Gordon's just solid. I will grant you that 14 homers and 10 steals don't win a championship, an in fact none of his numbers, other than the runs scored mark, are really anything remotely approaching elite. But across the board production is hard to find in fantasy baseball. When you couple that across the board production with year after year consistency then we're talking fantasy gold.
Three years of consistent effort like Gordon has shown is huge to me, and it should be to you too. Guys get hurt all the time. Guys fail to perform all the time. Even if Gordon's efforts aren't elite, I'm telling ya, you have to pay attention to his A+ consistency factor.
Despite all the good the Gordon offered in 2013 there was one negative – his batting average. After posting marks of .303 and .294 in 2011 and 2012 that mark dipped to .265 in 2013. What was the reason for that fall? It's easy to point out a few germane factors. (1) He had a six year low in his walk rate at 7.4 percent. That's two percentage points below his normal rate (the mark had been at least 9.7 percent each of the previous five years). The resulting 0.37 BB/K ratio was a six year low. (2) His 20.3 percent line drive rate was a four year low and the mark had been at least 22.0 percent each of the previous three years. (3) After borderline elite BABIP marks of .358 and .356 in 2011-12 that mark regressed to a merely strong .310 in 2013. (4) He tanked in the second half. Gordon hit .283 in his first 89 games but slumped to .244 over his final 67 contests. We have to be honest here. Gordon is a .269 career hitter so a .265 mark shouldn't have been outside the realm of the expected. I know he hit .290+ each of the previous two seasons, but he also hit .232 and .215 in 2009-10. Since he has figured out how to be successful at the big league level after really locking in his game in 2011-12 I'm of the opinion that he's more of a .285 type of hitter than .265.
Gordon is likely to do what he's done the past three years in 2014, and that is be a very impressive fantasy performer. The slippage in the walk column last season is a concern, as is the fact that his average dipped a bit and that his SLG tanked (after hitting 45 and 51 doubles he dipped all the way down to just 27 in 2013), but overall this is a player you should feel very comfortable adding to your stable of outfield performers in 2014.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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