Royals outfielder Alex Gordon will retire at the end of the 2020 season, as MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan first reported Thursday and the team quickly confirmed:
BREAKING: Hearing that Alex Gordon is officially retiring. Club announcement likely will come soon.— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) September 24, 2020
While he may not have been the obvious best player on the Royals’ back-to-back World Series teams in 2014-15, he’ll likely go on to be remembered as the most iconic figure from that era of Royals success. He’ll retire with the eighth-highest WAR in franchise history (as calculated by Baseball Reference) and heads into the final weekend of his career with three All-Star appearances, seven Gold Gloves, a .257/.338/.411 slash line, 190 homers, and 749 RBI.
Gordon’s story is a multi-faceted one that should cause his legacy to live on long past his playing days. Essentially a hometown kid who grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska rooting for the Royals, Gordon was selected No. 2 overall by the Royals out of the University of Nebraska in 2005. He reached the majors on Opening Day in 2007, but he was extremely inconsistent, struggling to establish himself at the plate or at his original position of third base. He was optioned to Triple-A in both 2009-10 and looked as if he might be approaching bust status.
But during that 2010 trip to Triple-A, Gordon made the transition to left field, and he returned with a new confidence, ultimately becoming arguably the best defensive left fielder of his era. He hit for a career-high 140 OPS+ in 2011 and posted five straight above-average OPS+ ratings from 2011-15. He was the heart and soul of two straight AL pennant-winning clubs in 2014 and ‘15, helping his childhood favorite team to its first world championship in 30 years in 2015.
And while he struggled at the plate after signing a new four-year deal prior to the 2016 season, Gordon served as a valuable veteran mentor as the Royals began a rebuilding process in the late 2010s that has stretched into the beginning of this decade. The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, the Reds’ Joey Votto, and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun are the only active players to play more games with one team than Gordon has with Kansas City.