by John Viril—
It’s nice to see Alex Gordon mashing the ball in the Cactus League. In 58 AB’s, Gordon has hit .407/.470/.729 with 5 HR’s. His 9 extra-base hits are second on the team to Mike Moustakas’s 11. Overall, Gordon is enjoying an excellent spring.
I am particularly encouraged by Gordon’s five home runs—even if they are in the thin Arizona air. Last season, Gordon hit a mere 14 dingers—a puzzling total for a guy with tremendous upper body strength. Gordon was very good last season, posting an excellent 6.2 bWAR (wins above replacement) value. If he maintains his outstanding defensive production and adds more home run power to his game, 2013 could be his best year yet.
Of course, we must reiterate all the “it’s just spring training” and “small sample size” caveats. At least Alex’s numbers have come against strong opponents. In baseball-reference.com’s new “opposition quality” metric, Gordon scored a high 9.3 (on a scale where 10 is considered “major league competition”). At least he isn’t torching guys who will start the season in AA. Those major league opponents, however, could have been working on their weak pitches. Their defenses are probably not employing shifts and the defensive metrics they might have developed last offseason. Maybe Gordon is just running hot right now.
Remembering Eric Hosmer‘s spring from last season is instructive here. Following his fine rookie season in which he hit 293/.334/.465 and finished 3rd in rookie-of-the-year voting, Hosmer hit .398/.453/.675 with 5 home runs in 83 Cactus League at bats. He looked like a superstar ready to emerge from his cocoon. Instead, teams unveiled a drastic new shift against him, and Hosmer hit a pathetic .232/.305/.359. He never really got untracked in 2012. Meanwhile, Mike Moustakas hit .240/.278/.387 in Arizona and then opened the season with a scorching April line of.315/.375/.534.
You never know until the bullets fly. Real games can’t get here too soon.