Alex Gordon isn’t leading off any longer (and that’s a shame)

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The Kansas City’s Star’s Bob Dutton tweeted the following this afternoon:

Royals manager Ned Yost: Moving Alex Gordon from first to third in order is likely to be long-term move. Says that’s where Gordon fits.

Yost clarifies remarks on future lineups: “Gordon will probably move down to four or five.” Says [Eric] Hosmer still projects as long-term No. 3.

Is that really the answer? Gordon has been one of the game’s best leadoff hitters the last two years, hitting .305/.383/.532 in 370 at-bats there in 2011 and .307/.379/.466 in 335 at-bats these this year.

Yost will probably argue that having Gordon hit leadoff is wasting his power, and obviously, it’s true that Gordon doesn’t get all that many RBI opportunities batting first for the Royals.

But the leadoff spot is just too important to be used on the likes of Chris Getz. Gordon sets up the rest of the lineup, and sure, it’s a pretty lousy lineup, but it’d be a whole lot lousier without him. How about this:

Royals No. 2 hitters this year: .261/.303/.386, 70 RBI in 490 AB
Royals No. 7 hitters this year: .263/.306/.390, 44 RBI in 433 AB

Those two spots in the order have been equally as productive, yet the No. 2 hitters have 40 percent more RBI per at-bat largely because they’re hitting behind Gordon. Only the Royals’ cleanup hitters (Billy Butler about half of the time) have more RBI than their No. 2 hitters and then only by three, despite the fact that the No. 2 hitters haven’t been any good at all.

Now hitting Gordon third or fourth in such a mediocre Royals lineup isn’t really going to make much of a difference. But if Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers come along like the team hopes they do, then the leadoff spot is exactly where I’d want Gordon going forward.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.