With the versatile Melky Cabrera back in a Royal’s uniform, Kansas City Royals Manager, Ned Yost, has had some tough decisions to make. They did not make the deal for Cabrera to have him sit three to four days a week. The Royals need his bat in the lineup every day. They brought him in to play and give them depth in the outfield in the event of an injury. Whose at-bats he would take was unclear at first. Designated Hitter Brandon Moss had struggled all season but posted .284/.377/.507 in July. Alex Gordon has easily been the worst bat for the Royals all season long but he is still playing gold-glove defense. He has the highest defensive runs saved of all American League left fielders. Jorge Bonifacio has been solid in right field after being called up from Omaha in late April. He’s hitting a respectable line of .253/.326/.433 with 13 home runs.
Kansas City Royals Forced to Bench Alex Gordon
Initially, the rookie, Bonifacio, was the odd man out. With the injury to Salvador Perez, there just was not enough punch in the offense and another change had to be made.
Gordon has been benched. Those are words that Royals fans couldn’t imagine they would hear less than two years into a four-year $75 million contract. He’s the face of the franchise. Every Thursday home game is “Gordo Big-Head Night” at Kauffman Stadium. He hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history in the ninth inning to tie game one of the 2015 World-Series. There may be more Alex Gordon jerseys in circulation than any other current player. How can you bench that guy?
It was easy to defend keeping Gordon in the lineup with a batting average under .200 for most of the season because his defense was ridiculous. His 13 DRS is the third best among all outfielders in Major League Baseball. There are also factors that are not measured in stats. With one of the best outfield arms in all of baseball, there are a lot of runners that won’t attempt to take an extra base on a ball hit in his direction. There is value in that but it can’t be measured with a stat. Add the intangibles such as his leadership and his quiet confidence regardless of the situation and it becomes difficult to pull him out of the lineup. It was easy to say, “just play good defense and we’ll take anything you contribute at the plate.”
Wait, don’t the Royals already have one of those?
The problem was that the Royals had another one of those in the lineup already in Alcides Escobar. If pitching and defense was solid and the other seven guys were hitting, you could still win a lot of games with both of them in the lineup. When Perez went on the 10-day DL, Drew Butera became the everyday catcher. Butera is a career .203 hitter who is good defensively. At that point, the Royals could no longer keep a .197 hitter in the lineup.
The organization has said that Gordon will spend some extra time with batting coach, Dale Sveum, to see if he can find his swing again. He will probably be used in late innings as a defensive substitution. Gordon is a professional and a team guy. There won’t be any loud talk from him. He went thru this earlier in his career and rebounded to be an All-Star. When Salvy is back to 100 percent and ready to play every day again, Yost will have to make another decision about what to do with his outfield. Until then, a guy who may have a statue in the outfield concourse someday will be watching from the dugout.
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