Sell On Alex Gordon

By R.J. Anderson //

Alex Gordon has been one of the better stories in baseball this season. The former second-overall pick is 27 now, and if he can sustain his first half production, will finish with career-highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs batted in, and runs scored. Not too shabby for a guy who looked to be on his way out of the organization as recently as last season. Don’t get too caught up, though, as there are some warning signs in Gordon’s peripherals.

Anytime a player raises his batting average significantly, an inflated batting average on balls in play is sure to follow. Gordon is no different. Entering this season, he recorded hits on roughly 29 percent of the balls he put into play, yet in 2011 that conversion rate is more than 34 percent. That’s not necessarily a sign that Gordon is all smoke and mirrors, but it doesn’t mean he is hitting the ball better—or at least harder—either.

Gordon had 39 percent of his hits prior to this season go for extra bases, and that number is actually down this season, at 37 percent. His plate appearances aren’t ending in more home runs than normal either. Gordon is seeing a higher percentage of his plate appearances end in extra bases, though, as he has cut into his strikeout and walk rates respectively. That means, while Gordon is hitting more extra base hits on a counting basis, as a rate of his total hits, he has roughly maintained his past rate.

A lot of Gordon’s improvement has come due to singles, which is risky. Gordon’s skill set has not been that of a high-average player in the majors, so be very, very careful moving forward, as he could be in line for some regression.

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