Alex Gordon promised to “dominate” in 2011.
He didn’t lie.
Not only did he come have a breakout year at the plate, with career-highs in every offensive stat – batting .303 with 101 runs, 45 doubles, 23 homers, 87 RBIs and team-highs .376 on-base percentage and a .502 slugging percentage – Gordon also stood out on defense.
And Tuesday the Royals left fielder reaped the benefits as he was awarded the Gold Glove, receiving the honor as recognition as the best defensive player at his position by a vote of managers and coaches.
“I’m thrilled,” said Gordon, who led the majors with a club-record 20 assists. “I couldn’t be happier about the award. I have a lot of people to thank.”
Gordon beat out other Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees and Sam Fuld of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“It would have been nice to see my teammate, Frenchy (Jeff Francoeur), win it with me. But just to have both of us up for the award was great. When I changed positions (from third base in 2010), I never thought I’d be in this position today.”
Francouer was a finalist in right field, but lost out to Baltimore’s Nick Markakis. If he had won, it would have been the first time the Royals had two Gold Glove’s since 1989.
Gordon is the first to win the award since second baseman Mark Grudzielanek won in 2006 and the 19th Royal to win the award all-time.
This year rules required voters to select a winner at each of the three outfield positions. Previously, all outfielders were lumped together, which often resulted in multiple center fielders winning the award.
The award completes Gordon’s transformation from third baseman to left fielder.
“Hopefully, I can be even better next year,” Gordon said. “I had a couple of errors, and I think my range can improve. I’m still pretty new to the position, so I’m hoping I can keep improving. I think there’s room for improvement every year.”
“It wasn’t easy at first,” said Gordon, who was demoted to Class AAA Omaha to make the conversion. “You could probably ask some of the Triple-A pitchers who I was playing defense behind. But that’s why I got sent down – to put the work in down there.”
Gordon’s 20 assists broke the club record of 17 set by Jermaine Dye in 2000 and matched by Mark Teahen, who also, ironically, moved from third base to ourfield to make room for Gordon, in 2007.