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.
We wrote a lot about Casey Kelly on this site circa 2010-12.
It was understandable. Kelly was a big-time draftee for the Red Sox and famously split time as a shortstop and a pitcher in the minors, with some people even wondering if he could do it full time. The Sox put the kibosh on that pretty quickly, as he became the top overall prospect in the Boston organization as a pitcher. He then made news when he was sent to San Diego — along with Anthony Rizzo — in the famous Adrian Gonzalez trade in December 2010.
He made his big league debut for the Padres in late August of 2012, holding a pretty darn good Atlanta Braves team scoreless for six innings, striking out four. He would pitch in five more games in the season’s final month to not very good results but missed all of 2013 and most of 2014 thanks to Tommy John surgery.
He wouldn’t make it back to the bigs until 2015 — pitching only three games after being converted to a reliever — before the Padres cut him loose, trading him to the Braves for Christian Bethancourt who, like a younger Kelly, the Padres thought could be a two-way player, catching and relieving. That didn’t work for him either, but I digress.
Kelly made a career-high ten appearances for a bad Braves team in 2016, was let go following the season and was out of the majors again in 2017 after the Cubs released him a couple of months after he failed to make the team out of spring training. He resurfaced with the Giants this past season for seven appearances. The Giants cut him loose last month.
Now Kelly’s journey takes him across the ocean. He announced on Instagram last night that he’s signed with the LG Twins in the Korean Baseball Organization. He seems pretty happy and eager about it in his little video there. I don’t blame him, as he’ll make $1 million for them, as opposed to staying here and almost certainly winding up in a Triple-A rotation making $60K or whatever it is veteran minor leaguers make.
This was probably way too many words to devote to a journeyman heading to play in Korea, but we so often forget top prospects once they fail to meet expectations. We also tend to forget all of the Tommy John casualties, focusing instead on the Tommy John successes. As such, I wanted to think a bit about Casey Kelly. I hope things work out well for him in the KBO and a baseball player who once seemed so promising can, after a delay, find success of his own.