In early May of 2006, the Kansas City Royals sent a struggling Mark Teahen (.195/.241/.351) down to Omaha. Teahen’s rough start to 2006 came on the heels of a rookie season that saw him hit just .246/.309/.376. He responded to the demotion by blasting AAA pitching to the tune of .380/.500/.658 over 24 games. Mark returned to the majors and was easily the second best offensive third baseman in the American League that summer (after Alex Rodriguez), hitting .313/.384/.557 before being shut down for shoulder surgery on September 5th.
We all know that Mark Teahen was unable to sustain the production of that glorious summer of 2006. He changed positions three times in three years and generally never recaptured the power that he once displayed. That said, Teahen did post a respectable cumulative line of .270/.330/.407 from 2007 through 2009.
If you throw out the 2006 offensive explosing, Teahen was a well below average player in 2005 and early 2006 and at least average from 2007 to 2009. The difference in his OPS between those two time periods is nearly sixty points.
Fast forward to early May 2010. The Royals send a struggling Alex Gordon (.194/.342/323) to AAA Omaha. Gordon’s poor start came on the heels of an injury plaqued 2009 season that saw him hit just .232/.324/.378. In his first eighteen games in AAA, Alex is blasting minor league pitching to the tune of .378/.513/700.
Now, of course, there are some critical differences in these story lines. Gordon had two full seasons in the majors prior to 2009: hitting .247/.314/.411 in his rookie season and posting an overall line of .250/.331/.415 from that season through the end of 2009. He even had suffered the indignity of a demotion already, having been sent to Omaha in a ‘get healthy – slow down your arbitration clock’ move in August of last year.
Still, the two players were without question struggling mightily when the club sent them to Omaha in those two Mays and both annihilated AAA pitching like few have during their time there. Will this demotion (and position change) ignite a ‘Teahen 2006’ type offensive eruption for Gordon when he returns to Kansas City? If so, will Alex be able to sustain his beyond one brief summer?