KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions for each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the Kansas City Royals?
How confident can we be in Alex Gordon's breakthrough 2011 season?
That's a fair question. In his first four major league seasons, Gordon posted a combined .244/.328/.405 slash line in 408 games. The 2005 No. 2 overall pick missed significant time with injuries in each of the two seasons prior to last and was possibly facing a make-or-break scenario with the organization that drafted him.
Another French kiss in 2012?
Expectations had been high, naturally, since the moment the Royals called his name. Before his rookie season, in 2007, Gordon spent only one full year in the minor leagues, all of it at the Double-A level. Although he hit respectably in his first two seasons, many fans, critics and perhaps even some in the organization were ready to label him a bust.
Gordon entered spring training last year healthy, and he thankfully avoided injury in camp. (In 2010, he broke his thumb about a month before opening day.) The left-handed hitter had put in time here and there to improve his game before, too, but last winter, he worked with the club's hitting coach, Kevin Seitzer, for more than two months straight.
The outfielder's exhibition slate was off to a slow start, but he quickly turned it on. Ned Yost demonstrated a lot of belief in him by moving him to the three-hole just before the season began, and he also spent a little time at leadoff. The rest is (recent) history.
Entering his age-28 campaign, Gordon has had nothing but positive results by using his overhauled approach that quieted his hands just a bit and really shortened his swing path, giving him much more control of his timing. Although Gordon didn't produce the kind of supporting stats that suggest he'll hit .300 every season, his foundation is strong.
Beware the possible overvaluation of Gordon - he's an outfielder with 20-homer power and room for growth there, the wheels for 15 to 20 steals and quality contributions in the RBI and run departments. Otherwise, fantasy baseball players should feel pretty good about owning this 2011 bust-out star.
How about Jeff Francoeur's?
For the past few offseasons, the news on Frenchy has centered on some little thing that he's working on to improve his selectivity or swing or what have you. His 2011 results could be the byproduct of his dedication in previous winters and Kansas City's seeming willingness to give him plenty of time to sink or swim before they moved on.
The righty bats leading indicators for rotisserie performance were pretty similar to the indices that he'd put up in past seasons. In fact, fake baseball fans should feel comfortable knowing that Francoeur's 2011 season was not out of character in many ways.
What that means, however, is that Frenchy seems to have done nothing more than finally enjoyed a year in which many things went right for him. Although he batted below .240 in both May and June, the playing time and some breaks helped him rebound in a big way. The all-knowing Lord Zola put it best:
Basically, what Francoeur did was combine skills demonstrated in previous seasons into this season. That is, he has displayed all of these skills before, just never all in the same campaign. Can he do it again? Probably not.
Please don't consider 2011 his new baseline.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.
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