Alex Gordon: Buy or Sell
While considered the best defensive left fielder in baseball, overshadowed has been Alex Gordon’s string of strong offensive seasons. The left-handed hitter has hit at least 14 home runs in each of his six full seasons and has managed a career batting average near .270. And while the numbers fail to “wow”, he has been a core piece in a lineup where consistency has been tough to find. Gordon has been good for a double-double each season since solidifying himself as an MLB regular. However, 2015 will be his Age-31 season and accurately predicting the start of the decline phase will be key to gauging future value in dynasty leagues. Can he remain a healthy fantasy baseball contributor for years to come.
With a career BABIP of .320, Gordon’s batting average is expected to be a cool .287 but sits at a much lower .268. After researching reasons why this is the case, it appears his low batting average is explained by his line drive rate. This is a real cause for concern moving forward as his line LD% is trending downward. If this continues, his batting average is bound to decrease since the vast majority of line drives end up as hits.
Gordon hits home runs at a sustainable, yet less than impressive rate given his peers in left field. He hit fly balls at a 38.1% rate in 2014 (good enough to correlate with a 20 home run season in 162 games). And with even higher rates over the course of his career, his diminished power (both home runs and doubles) is a surprise. Based on his numbers to date, a “dream” power season would result in Gordon hitting close to 27 home runs given his peripherals. Expect between 17-20 home runs for the immediate future, although it’s prudent to keep an eye on his line drive rates to gauge hard contact.
Alex Gordon’s strikeout totals are in the average range. He made contact with pitches in the strike zone at an 88.5% rate in 2014 and 86% in his career. This correlates to punching out 18.5% of the time. In reality, Gordon is more of a 20% strikeout guy though because he sees more pitches than the average player. At 3.98 pitches per plate appearance, his lack of aggression has resulted in more whiffs.
Alex Gordon In 2015 And Beyond
Gordon isn’t a “toolsy” player, but this doesn’t mean he’s void of tools. Any hitter who can provide 15-plus home runs and 10 steals is sneaky valuable in 5×5 formats. Plus, the continued development of Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez means he’ll have better lineup protection and more opportunities for run production.
In dynasty fantasy baseball leagues, the undervalued asset has 3-4 strong years left before decline sets in. While the average player’s prime ends at 32, Alex Gordon has the athleticism and body type of a player who’ll age well. In leagues where a player’s value falls off a cliff at 30, adding Gordon now is a prudent move. Deal for him and squeeze out every ounce of remaining value. It’s a frequent strategy used in the Ottoneu Experts League and I’ve won behind the contributions of players like Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rios. – Mike Newman
30 Oct 2014 / Edward Sutelan /
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