I tend to find that there are always a lot of players in baseball who are significantly younger than I expect. It seems like the 25 year old Matt LaPorta has been around forever. I can't believe that Fernando Martinez is only 22. Alex Gordon is the rare opposite case. I feel like the guy is still a rookie, but he's currently in his age 27 season. It's been almost 6 years since the Royals made him the second overall pick in the 2005 MLB draft. And yes, that 2005 MLB draft. The one that has given us Justin Upton, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Jay Bruce, the list just goes on and on with valuable fantasy contributors taken in the first round of that draft.
More on Gordon after the jump:
And in 2005 the Royals thought Alex Gordon was better than all but Upton. I'm not saying that to bash the Royals, because they were far from the only team that saw him as a future middle of the order stud, and for his first few seasons out of college Gordon lived up to all of his expectations. In his first season of professional baseball the Royals sent him to AA, an aggressive move but it seemed to pay off wonderfully well as he hit 29 HRs with 22 steals and a line of .325/.427/.588. Other than a slightly high number of strikeouts he was completely dominant. He was named Baseball America's minor league player of the year. The kid had a date with MLB greatness, and then things fell apart. No worse. They didn't fall apart, they just kind of... fizzled.
Gordon spent the next two season starting at third base for the Royals, and everyone expected a few growing pains (like in the title!) but he had more than a few growing pains. Gordon had a .247/.314/.411 line in 2007 and a .260/.351/.432 line in 2008. An improvement, but at this rate he would take a few years just to become a major league average player. After an injury-plagued season that saw Gordon regress across the board, he seemed to be running out of the potential that had seemed so infinite just a few seasons earlier. In 2010 he struggled again and was sent down to AAA in May, where yet again he proved that he could eat minor league pitching for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When he was called back up to the majors though, he couldn't even snack on MLB pitching. Things looked pretty bleak for Gordon prior to 2011. He had spent parts of 5 seasons in the majors without ever even really flashing a sign of success. That is until he got to spring training in 2011
Gordon led the majors with 23 RBIs this past spring and coupled that with 6 HRs. I tend not to put much faith in spring stats, but his manager, Ned Yost, did and put him in the 3 hole in the lineup, which has paid off mightily. Gordon currently holds the longest active hitting streak in the AL. He has a solid line of .351/.375/.532, and while he only has 1 HR, he has 9 doubles, some of which could turn into HRs as the season progresses. Gordon may never become the superstar that he was pegged to be, but he seems to be on the verge of a breakout year, and while he probably isn't a free agent in your league, take a crack at making a trade for him. Somewhat arbitrary forecast: .310/.350/.530 line with 25 HRs. 20 Steals and 100 RBIs/Runs