The Kansas City Royals are making some headlines in August, and Alex Gordon has been a large reason for the waves they are making. The Royals currently sit at 65-54, in first place in the American League Central, riding a streak where they have won 17 of their last 21 games, including four wins in the past thirteen days against the best team in baseball, the Oakland Athletics.
The Kansas City offense has made its way from historically bad to run-of-the-mill bad over the last six weeks, and in the middle of it all sits Alex Gordon. Three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time All-Star Alex Gordon. But should he be considered for the American League's Most Valuable Player?
If you look at just his offensive numbers, they won't jump out at you. Though his triple slash is a robust .278/.353/.432, in terms of MVP numbers, they are sort of meh. His wRC+ of 120 puts him 25th in the American League, behind non-candidates Connor Gillaspie, Jose Altuve, and Matt Joyce.
Where Alex Gordon separates himself is with his defense, which rates out high. Very high. Best-in-the-American-League high. His Defensive Runs Above Average currently sits at 19.6, a shade ahead of the defense-first and really defense-only Jackie Bradley Jr.
When you combine Gordon's defensive metrics with his above-average offense, he comes out at 5.3 Wins Above Replacement (according to FanGraphs). The list of AL players who have accrued more value on the season goes like this:
Mike Trout, 5.7 fWAR
And that's it. Josh Donaldson is at 5.1, and others whose names have been bandied about for consideration include Robinson Cano (4.7), Jose Bautista (4.4), and the aforementioned Trout, who will, in all likelihood, win the award. He'd be running away with it again this year, if the defensive metrics were as kind to him this season as they have been in years past.
Is Gordon likely to win? No. Baseball, and more importantly those who vote for baseball awards, are still an offensive-minded group on the whole. Gaudy numbers, particularly for Most Valuable Player, will beat out well-rounded consistency every single time.
But Alex Gordon at least deserves to be in the conversation. He has been the Royals most consistent, most productive player on the team. His offense and defense have led them to the position they are in now, clinging to a half-game lead for the division in mid-August.
And he has edged himself into being one of the most valuable players in the league, all things considered.