WE GOT HIM!!!! Now what? – What Royals fans can expect from 32-35 year old Alex Gordon

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It is finally done. After months of waiting and countless media pundits already photoshopping his head onto other team’s jerseys, Alex Gordon has re-signed with the Kansas City Royals. We here at Royals Blue have been consistent in our belief and desire that he would stay in Kansas City. With #RoyalsTwitter ablaze with talk of statues, retired numbers and #Royal4Life, this is truly a day to be celebrated. Leave work early. Pop a bottle of Crown Town. Pull up World Series games on your DVR. Search “How many days until Spring Training?” on Google.

          wonka

Now that our hearts are full of royal blue feels, what can we actually expect on the field over the life of this team record-setting contract?

It’s somewhat tough to predict. Finding player comps for Gordo is an inexact science. Great players usually produce well into their 30s. Good players see some amount of drop off, but tend to stay competent or better. He probably fits somewhere in the middle. Gordon is a fine major league hitter, but his elite abilities lie on defense, which relies on metrics that are still somewhat hit or miss.

Here is a smattering of comps that came to mind. These are how similar players performed in their age 32 – 35 seasons, noting that none of which are “perfect” examples.

Torii+Hunter+New+York+Yankees+v+Los+Angeles+JUk-VOuEZByl

Torii Hunter – 15.5 WAR – 3.875 average

Gordo does not have power like Hunter, but it is not unheard of to compare them from a defensive standpoint.

Ben-Zobrist

Ben Zobrist – 32-34 year old season –11.79 WAR – 3.93 average

Zobrist is not the elite defender that Gordon is, but his versatility helps balance this out and they share eerily similar career offensive numbers.

beltran

Carlos Beltran – 12.8 WAR – 3.2 average

Beltran had his age 33 season derailed by injury which brings these numbers down. He also had considerably more raw power at the plate than Gordon. However by that point in his career, he was nowhere near the defender that Gordon is.

damon

Johnny Damon – 14.4 WAR – 3.6 Average

Their career OPSs are almost identical. Damon was more a threat on the base paths, Gordon is a much better defensive player. Damon’s durability is something to dream about. He had 16 seasons straight of 520+ PA and 141+ games played.

mike cameron

Mike Cameron – 12.3 WAR – 3.075 Average

Cameron’s age 32 season was cut short due to injury (76 games played), but he rebounded nicely in age 33-35 with 120+ games played in each season and a 3.5 WAR average. And though Gordon hits for a little more average/OBP and Cameron hit for more power, their career OPSs are almost identical.

And now for a couple scary ones …

darin erstad

Darin Erstad  –  -.3 WAR –  -.075 average

Through his age 31 season, Erstad averaged 3.52 WAR per full season he played. He played 125+ games in 8 of 9 of those seasons. He was a two-time All Star and three-time Gold Glove award winner. He had a .753 career OPS to that point.

Then he fell off the cliff. He played 40 games in his age 32 season, 87 in age 33. His played 140 in his age 34 season, but was obviously not the same player with a .672 OPS and 0.00 WAR. After a lackluster age 35 season, he was out of baseball for good.

shane victorino

Shane Victorino – 32-34 year old season – 7 WAR – 2.33 Average

Having played 7 straight seasons of 131+ games, Victorino started out this age bracket on fire with a 6.1 WAR campaign in his age 32 season. Then the injury bug hit hard. His age 33 and 34 season produced a combined .9 WAR, seeing him play in only 101 total games.

———-

So what does it all mean? Health will absolutely be the key. In that department, Gordon has shown a mixed past.

He missed significant time in 2010 (granted this was before he became a legitimate big league producer) with a broken thumb. He had a wrist injury that took a toll on his performance in the second half of 2014, leading to offseason surgery. He missed almost 2 months in 2015 with (thankfully just) a severely strained groin.

However, he was an iron man between those injuries, putting together 4 straight seasons of 151+ games played and 643+ plate appearances from 2011-2014. And by all accounts, he takes better care of his body than most Olympic athletes. There is certainly optimism that he can be more Johnny Damon or Torii Hunter and less Darin Erstad.

Regardless of how this contract shakes out in terms of on the field performance, this is a great day for #Royals fans. Alex Gordon, already a shoe-in for the Royals Hall of Fame, put himself on the right track to have a legacy in this town second only to George Brett. He is as royal is a Royal could be.

72 million dollars to ensure that you end up in the top 3 or 4 most iconic players in your team’s history? A no brainer all around.

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Author: Zach Hodson

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