The Kansas City Royals have a very interesting player currently learning how to play left field for their AAA affiliate in Omaha. At 26, he might be a little old for the league, but there’s no denying his production. Alex Gordon, the Royals former third baseman, has put together a .377/.515/.688 line in about 100 plate appearances with the O-Royals.
We’ve already chronicled the demotion of Alex Gordon to AAA early this season. It seemed ridiculous at the time – Gordon was clearly deserving of a spot on the roster, as he is just simply better than both Chris Getz, and Alberto Callaspo‘s defense is extremely suspect. Apparently the Royals felt that they weren’t going to contend this season and that their best course of action, for the long term, would be to try Alex Gordon in left field and let Callaspo’s bat play at third. It is almost certainly better for Gordon to be receiving the at bats that he has at AAA than to be stagnating on the Royals’ bench at the Major League level, but the Royals almost certainly cost themselves some wins on the season.
As we look at the standings, the Royals are pretty clearly finished. They sit at 19-28, 7.5 games behind the Twins for the Central and 9.5 behind the Yankees for the Wild Card. Given the talent disparity between the Royals and those two teams, we can safely say the Royals will not catch them. Still, there is reason to believe that winning now is valuable, and so the Royals should try and make the most of their current season while building for the long term.
They have the perfect player to bring up to the major leagues right now in Gordon. Learning left field clearly hasn’t impacted his offense in the minor leagues. Scott Podsednik has a .234/.281/.328 line in May. Mitch Maier and Rick Ankiel have wOBAs below .320. Willie Bloomquist has played well so far, but he’s Willie Bloomquist. The only truly talented player in the Royals’ outfield right now is David DeJesus, and he’s a 3-4 WAR player at best.
The Royals should have room in their outfield. Podsednik, Bloomquist, Maier, and Ankiel are all expendable players, and DeJesus could bring in some prospects in a potential trade. Alex Gordon does not have anything left to learn in the minors – if there are still any kinks in his outfield defense, he can work them out in the majors. Gordon was a good enough player to make the roster in April. At the plate, he has nothing left to learn in the minors. There’s no excuse if he’s not back in Kansas City by June.