Yesterday was a great tease of the upcoming season for Kansas City Royals fans. Fox Sports Kansas City aired an hour-long preview special featuring many of the Royals and the commentator crew, which was followed up by an evening Spring Training game against the Seattle Mariners in Surprise. Despite getting pounded early in that Cactus League matchup, it all made for an enticing glimpse at the 2014 season.
Aside from the drumming of KC’s No. 5 starter Bruce Chen, the Royals continued to show the same kind of promise we’ve seen throughout this spring. The power to both sides of the field that Alex Gordon exhibited is especially indicative of future success. I’ve talked before about Gordo changing roles this year, but it will be hard to say too much about his impact on the team this year.
Alex ripped a two-run double off the right field wall in the first and sent an outside pitch over the left field fence for a 9th-inning opposite field home run yesterday. His spring average stands at .309, but with Gordon we may see a rare case of a player actually hitting better in the regular season than in the batter-friendly preseason.
Rarely has Gordon gotten a chance to hit in the lineup spot he will hold throughout 2014. Now that the Royals have their prototypical leadoff hitter in Norichika Aoki, they’re a team with a specifically designed structure to the lineup. That structure is one that is designed to get runners on base for Gordon, not to mention cleanup hitter Billy Butler and probable No. 6 batter Salvador Perez.
Perhaps hoping for a regular season average that exceeds .310 is too optimistic, but hoping for a better output than that from last year is completely realistic. His 2013 average of .265 was Gordon’s lowest recorded since returning from the minors as a left fielder in 2011.
With more runners on base in front of him, fans can also look forward to Gordon cashing in more runs with his power. Every year that he played more than 130 games for the Royals, he went deep at least 15 times. As an integral part of this new and imposing lineup, Gordo has every reason to excel as KC’s No. 5 hitter.