Rookie in a rut (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday May 2, 2007 11:49AM; Updated: Wednesday May 2, 2007 11:49AM
Moore insists he's seen some things out of Gordon that indicate he's starting to feel his way out of his funk. In his last five games in April, Gordon walked seven times. He's hitting balls hard, Moore says, and he's showing no signs that he's overly frustrated or depressed about his lack of early success.
And sending Gordon to the minors, really, would do nobody much good. It's not as if he's wasting away on the bench in Kansas City. He's started all but three games. He's getting plenty of at-bats. The thinking in the Royals' front office is that, if he still has developing to do, he might as well do it against the best. "You're always developing in the Major Leagues," Moore said, "but, certainly, here in Kansas City, where we are right now, we can be in the developmental mode a little more right now."
To be fair, Gordon isn't alone in his struggles. Rookies all over had a hard first month of the season [see chart below]. But few rookies were being counted on as much as Gordon. Maybe none has flopped so spectacularly in the early stages of this season.
"With young hitters -- all hitters, for that matter -- quality plate appearances are the important thing." Moore said. "He is getting his walks. He's not overly aggressive. He's hit some balls hard.
"Early on, he was a little pull conscious. Now, we're seeing him go back up the middle. Really, his pitch recognition has been very good. He's working the count much better."
Slow starts, even as painful as Gordon's, are not unusual even for the best of players. In his first taste of the majors, in May and June 1995, the Yankees' Derek Jeter hit .234 with a .280 on-base percentage. The A's Bobby Crosby hit only .200 in April of 2004, with a .269 on-base percentage. Cal Ripken Jr. hit .123 in his first full month of his first full year, back in 1982. All three of those players won the AL Rookie of the Year award.
Still, the Royals need a lot more out of Gordon than the promise of future hardware. They need Gordon to be the hitter that everyone in the organization thought he would be -- still think, in fact, that he can be -- and the sooner the better. The Royals are trying hard to put their feel-bad past behind them and make it easier for the fans in Kansas City to find some good in this team. And they need Gordon to do it.
Here's a look at how some rookie position players have fared so far this season: