What has happened to Kansas City’s Alex Gordon and Kendrys Morales?
Two of the Royals’ most-trusted veterans are in prolonged slumps that are approaching two months.
Gordon’s decline is especially alarming considering he just received what amounted to a “lifetime achievement” contract after the 2015 season. The Royals are forking over id="mce_marker"8 million a year for a player who suddenly looks very old and the deal has three more years to go.
Gordon, who was injured in a collision Sunday with Mike Moustakas, has always been a streaky player, not to mention a slow starter. But this slump is shocking, especially with the strikeouts he’s been piling up. In just 142 at-bats, Gordon has fanned a staggering 50 times. He’s hitting .211 with four homers and just 10 RBIs, which is on pace for only 40.
I’m surprised Gordon’s total offensive non-existence hasn’t become a bigger issue in Kansas City. Of course, he’s beloved since he’s the longest-tenured regular and he plays the game hard. Also, he’s been one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball for years, though it’s obvious he’s lost a step or two. In left field, though, you don’t have to have a lot of speed and he still has a good arm.
Gordon has just nine extra-base hits overall and has hit lower in the order than at anytime I can remember. I’m sure the Royals are confident he’ll break out of it, but I’m a big believer in body language and right now Gordon’s is bad. He appears satisfied with his World Championship ring and doesn’t play with his usual zest.
Morales is struggling even more. He was amazingly consistent in his first year with the team and carries with him the tag “professional hitter.”
Through his 43 games, he isn’t even hitting his weight as he’s under the Mendoza line at .191. His one highlight was a walk-off home run against Atlanta, but other than that it’s been a lost year. He has only 11 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs. He has been especially bad from the left side, as pitchers are getting him out constantly with sliders away. Like Gordon, his body language smacks of frustration. Royals fans are wondering if maybe he was a one-hit wonder.
Still, the Royals are in the thick of the American League Central race as their recent warm streak (not a hot streak) has pulled them within 3 1/2 games of the Chicago White Sox, whose back end of the rotation is starting to get exposed. Cleveland is ahead of the Royals and lurking is Detroit.
This may be one of those years where 86 wins might be good enough for the division title. But the Royals won’t get there unless Gordon and Morales emerge from their deep funks.