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Gordon shows signs of improvement at plate

Outfielder's hard-hit rate, xBA climb since moving into up in Royals' lineup
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's overall numbers still are nothing to shout about, but Royals manager Ned Yost and his staff have noticed a positive difference in Gordon's plate appearances since Yost moved him up in the order at the end of July.

Entering Tuesday's game, Gordon was hitting .241 with a .361 slugging percentage. But since moving into the No. 2 or No. 3 spots in the lineup, Gordon's hard-hit rate per Statcast™ was up almost three points to 42 percent.

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KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon's overall numbers still are nothing to shout about, but Royals manager Ned Yost and his staff have noticed a positive difference in Gordon's plate appearances since Yost moved him up in the order at the end of July.

Entering Tuesday's game, Gordon was hitting .241 with a .361 slugging percentage. But since moving into the No. 2 or No. 3 spots in the lineup, Gordon's hard-hit rate per Statcast™ was up almost three points to 42 percent.

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And Gordon's expected batting average (xBA), which accounts for hit probability based on exit velocity and launch angle, is .274. His expected slugging percentage is .531, up from .457 before August.

What that means is Gordon has been hitting the ball much harder since the move up in the order, but simply has run into some bad fortune.

The change in Gordon is subtle, but noticeable.

Video: CWS@KC: Gordon swipes third for 10th steal of season

"I think he's been better," Yost said. "I asked [bench coach] Dale [Sveum] what he is doing differently. Dale said when he was really struggling, he was rolling over and rolling over on every pitch. But now he's more freed up. He's more upright and has more of a weight shift. Even the outs he's made -- there are a lot of loud outs." 

Gordon, who hit only .208 with a .315 slugging percentage in 2017, admits he enjoys hitting higher in the lineup, as most hitters do.

"It could be there is a little more protection behind me," Gordon said. "And it's always fun to hit between guys like [Salvador Perez] and [Whit Merrifield] and now Mondi (Adalberto Mondesi). It's good to be in that mix. I definitely feel better right now."

Video: KC@MIN: Gordon makes nice sliding grab to retire Cave

Gordon, who will be heading into the final year of his four-year deal in 2019, is certainly hoping he is getting closer to finding his former self offensively after two straight disappointing seasons. He also could be headed for his sixth Gold Glove in left field this season.

"I think throughout the season I've gotten slowly better with a lot of things," Gordon said. "In '17, I just couldn't get my timing. And now it feels more like '11 and '12. I'm more upright and using my hands and my weight. My swing was better and my approach was better back then, and I'm feeling it getting more near that."

Remembering 9/11
All on-field personnel for Tuesday's White Sox-Royals game will wear caps with a side patch of "We Shall Not Forget" for the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attack in 2001.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Alex Gordon