Gordon adds Platinum Glove Award to collection
Royals left fielder honored along with Hosmer, Perez during annual ceremony
KANSAS CITY -- Alex Gordon has been upgraded. He's gone from Gold Glove to Platinum.
The Royals' left fielder won the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award for the American League, it was announced at Friday night's Gold Glove Award ceremony at The Plaza Hotel in New York.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won the National League Platinum Glove for the third time in its four-year history. It was the first for Gordon. Royals teammate and catcher Salvador Perez finished second to Gordon in the AL.
Gordon this year won his fourth straight Gold Glove as the AL's best defensive left fielder. Perez and first baseman Eric Hosmer also won Gold Gloves for the Royals, and they also were honored at the dinner.
All the Gold Glove winners were eligible for the Platinum Glove Awards, determined by an international fan vote combined with an adjusted SABR Defensive Index.
Gordon received 21.6 percent of the total vote to 15.9 percent for Perez and 13.2 percent for Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. In the NL, Molina had 20.6 percent to 17.7 for Mets center fielder Juan Lagares and 15.5 for Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
The SABR Defensive Index rated Gordon tops among AL outfielders with a 19.9 SDI, and Molina's 8.9 SDI was best among catchers in both leagues.
Defense was one of the prime reasons for the Royals' surprising and inspiring run to the World Series this year.
"Pitching and defense is what we built our team around and our success," Gordon said, "and maybe when the pitchers weren't doing what they're supposed to every time, the defense picked them up, so it's got to be frustrating for the opposing team."
Gordon's development into a premier outfielder was also a success story based on his penchant for hard work. He came up with the Royals as a highly touted third baseman in 2007, supposedly a star on the level of George Brett.
Gordon's hitting production for his first two years was adequate, but not Brettesque, and in his third year, 2009, Gordon had to undergo hip surgery and missed much of the season. In 2010, a broken thumb in Spring Training and a sluggish bat when he returned resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Omaha.
At the time, Mike Moustakas was projected as the third baseman of the future so Gordon, as part of his Omaha assignment, was turned into an outfielder.
"I didn't know what to think when I made the position change -- even if I'd be in the big leagues," Gordon said.
But that turned into an unqualified success. In 2011, Gordon's first full season in left field, his diving catches, leaping grabs and consistently accurate throws earned him his first Gold Glove. Three more were to follow as his fielding feats continued unabated.
Since the shift, Gordon's 61 outfield assists are the most in the Majors, and now opponents are reluctant to try for an extra base when Gordon has the ball.
At the same time, Gordon's offense became solid as well. In those four seasons, he's averaged .283, 19 home runs, 39 doubles and 78 RBIs. He's been an All-Star selection the last two years. Instead of the next George Brett, he's become the first Alex Gordon.
Gordon's all-round abilities have made him into a team leader.
"A guy like Alex Gordon, who's been here from the beginning and worked so hard, and cared so much and battled through a lot of tough times, he really sets the tone," said general manager Dayton Moore.
"If you watch him in pregame -- I've filmed it before on my phone just to share it with my son and other young players -- this is how you work at it and how you go about it. He loves to play, as do Hoz and Salvy and Moose and [Alcides Escobar] and Lorenzo [Cain] and [Jarrod Dyson]. They love to play baseball, they love to play defense."
A video of Gordon's pregame practice in the outfield is used to inspire Royals Minor Leaguers to follow his example. The rigorous workout routine that he follows relentlessly before and after games leaves teammates in awe.
"I wouldn't be able to play the game that night if I tried," Hosmer said during the postseason. "It's incredible. It's unheard of, actually. It's unbelievable to see firsthand."
For Gordon, it's paid off in platinum.