Bust. Injury-prone. Waste of money. Entering the 2011 season, Alex Gordon was burdened by all of these labels. The Nebraska Cornhusker stud, a Golden Spikes Award winner, number two pick in the ’05 draft and career .321/.438/.578 hitter in the minors, struggled with quadriceps, hip and thumb injuries early in his MLB career and batted just .244/.328/.405 from 2007 to 2010. Moved off third base in deference to Kansas City’s new hot-shot hot corner prospect, Mike Moustakas, Gordon was an afterthought fighting to prove he was still worthy of being in, much less anchoring, a big league lineup.
That all changed during his age-27 season. Gordon stayed healthy while living up to his minor league dossier and former #2 overall prospect status from Baseball America, swatting pitchers for a .303/.367/.502 line in 690 plate appearances. His offensive surge during a season in which run-scoring once again declined meant that his bat was 41 percent better than average (141 wRC+), compared to seven percent worse than average from ’07 to ’10.
The question now, of course, is whether Gordon is here to stay as a .300+ hitter and all-around offensive threat. Was his torrid 2011 a sign of things to come as he’s in what are typically a hitter’s peak seasons, or will he be overvalued in 2012 by euphoric owners who overlook warning signs that his sudden turnaround was too good to be true? The truth likely lies somewhere between those two extremes — Gordon did indeed make progress at the plate, but expecting him to replicate his 2011 season would be a good way to end up disappointed in 2012.
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