Once upon a time, Alex Gordon was one of the top prospects in baseball, expected to be the cornerstone of the Kansas City Royals lineup. After hitting below .250 in three of his first four seasons with the club, though, some gave up on the youngster.
The last couple of seasons have changed that.
Gordon has quietly been among the best hitters in the game since his breakout 2011, hitting .298 over that span while averaging 18 home runs, 80 RBI, and 14 SB per season. Had it not been for the Royals struggles and the weak—although better—lineup in Kansas City, those stats could be even better, too. There is one stat, in particular, that all fantasy baseball owners should be aware of.
Gordon had 70 extra base hits in 2012.
Andrew McCutchen had 66. Mike Trout had 65.
In fact, only four players have more extra base hits in the last two seasons than Gordon, and all four of those players are going in the first round of fantasy drafts this year. Gordon is going in the 9th.
The Royals 29-year-old outfielder even improved on one of his biggest flaws in 2012 as well. He hit for a .248 average against left handed pitching, or about 10 points higher than his .239 career mark, and his .320 mark against righties was a career high too. He also hit .356 on balls in play, a little less than in 2011, meaning there’s no reason to believe he can’t hold a .300 average.
Overall, Gordon may have taken several years to figure things out, but that doesn’t change that fact that he has figured things out. At 29, there’s room for him to grow and the lineup in Kansas City could be stronger than it has been in the past if guys like Mike Mustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Salvador Perez perform like they can in 2013. If that’s the case, those 70 extra base hits could correlate to 100+ RBI.
He’s ranked 85th overall on ESPN’s draft board. Draft him like he’s in the top 50.
2013 Projections: .305 average, 23 HR, 92 RBI, 18 SB, 100 RS