This is the latest post in this series reviewing the Kansas City Royals offensively, position by position. You can go back and read the posts on catcher (including a series preview), first base, second base, third base and shortstop.
Due to some forces out of my control, the stats I’ll be showing here to start things off have changed. So I apologize for not keeping things identical for all of these posts. Let’s take a look at the stats of the players who got the most time in left field.
I was never a fan of Scott Podsednik and I thought prior to the season that there was absolutely no way he would repeat the year he had in 2009. On that front, I was wrong. He posted numbers that actually surpassed his 2009 numbers in many categories. I thought that signing him was foolish, but I was only using the information that I had available to me. It’s quite possible that Podsednik changed is approach in 2009 and that change is what prompted his statistical increase. If that’s so, kudos to the Royals front office for gathering that information and using it to their benefit. If not, kudos again to the Royals for being exceedingly lucky. Podsednik ended up being an average offensive left fielder and was eventually traded to the Dodgers for Elisaul Pimentel and Luke May. Defensively, I thought that Podsednik was a disaster who seemed to make spectacular plays on occasion, but usually because he took a bad route to a ball and had to make up for it by diving.
Alex Gordon took over for Scott Podsednik after the trade and didn’t do a whole lot to repair his reputation. He did hit for better power than Podsednik; he had more doubles and homeruns with the same number of triples in 200 fewer plate appearances. However, he didn’t get on base nearly as often as Podsednik and that single handedly destroyed his offensive output. Gordon took nearly as many walks as Podsednik did, but he didn’t hit nearly as many singles.
Let’s take a look at how the unit as a whole stacked up to the rest of the American League.
As a unit, the Royals left fielders ranked 9th in wOBA and 8th in OPS. It’s interesting to see the unit’s numbers as a whole considering the very different approaches used by Gordon and Podsednik. Being eighth or ninth in a category isn’t an offensive killer, but is pretty interesting to note that the teams which made the playoffs took four of the top five spots. It could be a coincidence, or it could mean that having a strong offensive left fielder is a key to success. I’d love to see someone do some research and see if there is a correlation with offensive output at any single position and success. If you know of an article like that, point me to it.
In 2011, Alex Gordon is likely going to get a full season to prove that he can contribute at the Major League Level. Personally I still believe he can turn it around. He has shown very good strike zone judgment and decent power. Two very difficult things to learn. If he can strike out less and get on base more, he could be a valuable asset. At this point, nobody is breathing down his neck since the Royals are thin in the outfield department. I’d imagine that along with starting pitching, outfield is where Dayton Moore will spend money and resources this off-season.