Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Will Alex Gordon Repeat?

Q: Alex Gordon finally had that breakout year we had all been waiting on. Was he just a late bloomer, or is there cause for concern?

A: There's definitely cause for concern.

Despite an impressive .303 average, Gordon actually showed the worst plate discipline of his career. He had a career low 9.7% walk rate, and swung at a career high 27.1% pitches outside the zone. It's worth noting that these are still actually still pretty good numbers, but you hope this isn't the start of a new found hacking approach at the place that progresses. If this rate stays stable or increases you better believe pitchers will exploit those holes this year. His .358 BABIP was the 9th highest in the league, so he experienced some nice luck last season. A .275 AVG is safe projection.

He's flashed that 20-25 HR power before, but I think that # comes down a little bit. He posted a career high 12.6% HR/FB rate. Using the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Gordon hit 4 "lucky" homers last season. What is a lucky home run? A home run that wouldn't have cleared the fence had the ball been struck on calm 70 degree day. In other words right place at the right time. 8 of his 23 homers were also "just enough". Meaning the ball cleared the fence by less than 10 vertical feet, or that it landed less than one fence height past the fence. 18-20 is a reasonable number.

Gordon will bat leadoff regularly this season. With his healthy walk rate and additional plate appearances he shouldn't have a problem scoring runs again this season. It's that RBI total that will fall off a little. Who's batting 9th? Alcides Escobar, who has posted an OBP under .300 the last 2 seasons. I really don't think 87 RBI is attainable again. Bump that down to around 75.

The 17 SB were nice, but he was caught stealing 32% of the time. Not a great rate. If Ned Yost is wise he will let Hosmer, Butler, and Frenchy help advance Gordon on the bases. 13-15 SB in 2012.

So a .275, 18 HR, 95 R, 75 RBI, 15 line is definitely useful assuming a standard rate of regression. Is it worth a 6th/7th round pick for where he's going in Yahoo leagues? Remember this is a guy who wasn't worth a roster spot in 2009 & 2010, and he breaks out with worse peripherals. I want more stability when it's still that early in the draft. OF is a deep position, and there are other bats and arms who should be around that are better bets. Avoid Gordon unless his average draft position slides down a couple of rounds before your draft starts.

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