Judging the Royals

Has Alex Gordon turned things around? Here’s why you should care.

Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon walks to the dugout after striking out in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Cleveland.
Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon walks to the dugout after striking out in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017, in Cleveland. AP

In the third inning of Saturday’s game against the Indians, Alex Gordon hit a home run.

It’s my guess that a whole bunch of Kansas City sports fans have tuned out the Royals and started caring about the Chiefs, so in a game the Royals lost by four runs, Alex Gordon hitting a homer does not qualify as stop-the-presses news.

But if you plan on cheering for the Royals next season and the season after that — the duration of Gordon’s contract —that home run is worth noting.

Gordon hit his fifth home run of the season on July 3 and did not hit his sixth home run until September 9; that’s 55 games and 170 at bats between home runs and in that stretch Gordon also batted .212 and slugged .282.

Now, seven games and 25 at bats after his sixth home run, Gordon hit his seventh; in that stretch Gordon hit .280 and slugged .480.

Are those numbers meaningful?

The problem with having 443 at bats is it’s hard to move the needle by having a good week or a good two weeks or even a good month, so once a player gets enough trips to the plate it’s easy to miss hot and cold streaks.

Gordon’s overall numbers are still bad — he’s hit .208 and slugged .307 on the season — but over the past 14 days those numbers are .298 and .511; over the past 28 days those numbers are .257 and .414.

Those numbers could be an aberration, but if you’re a Royals fan who plans on being a Royals fan again next season and the season after that, those numbers might give you hope.

And the way things look right now, all Royals fans could use a little hope.

And Alcides Escobar hasn’t been as bad as you’ve been led to believe

People keep talking about Alcides Escobar having a bad year at the plate, but that hasn’t been true for most of the season.

On June 6 Escobar was hitting .177, but since then his average has been steadily climbing.

Since June 7 Escobar has hit .303 and slugged .438. That’s 91 games and 333 at bats — an awfully big hot streak to miss.

And I’m part of the problem: I didn’t notice how well Escobar had done until Ned Yost and Mike Swanson, the Royals vice president of communication, pointed it out to me.

I’ve mentioned this before, but people keep talking about Escobar having a bad year so I guess it’s worth mentioning again. Lately, the Royals bottom of the order hasn’t been as bad as the overall numbers indicate.

Now the bad news: on Saturday the Royals played some sloppy baseball

Before anyone accuses me of angling for a job with the Royals (I’ve had at least one Royals coach tell me I’d make a great beer vendor), let’s move on to Austin Jackson’s Little League home run.

Saturday’s game was pretty much over after Jackson hit an RBI single in the sixth inning and managed to circle the bases on Royals’ mistakes.

Here’s how that happened:

Lorenzo Cain fielded Jackson’s ball and made a throw home to prevent Francisco Lindor from scoring.

The throw was late and off line, but was not cut off by Eric Hosmer, stationed on the outfield side of the pitcher’s mound. Hosmer swiped at the ball, but without being there to ask him, there’s no way to know if Hosmer wanted to cut the ball and missed, or was faking a cut to freeze Jackson at first base.

Either way, Jackson took off for second.

Seeing he had no play at the plate, catcher Drew Butera moved toward the infield to shorten the throw, caught Cain’s throw and made his own throw to second base; which he bounced.

Alcides Escobar was at second base to take Butera’s throw, but when it bounced, was unable to knock the ball down. So the ball continued into centerfield, past Cain, and Jackson circled the bases.

Nothing about the play was pretty, but Cain failing to reposition himself behind second base after making the throw home is what allowed Jackson to circle the bases. If you’re standing still, you’re probably in the wrong spot.

OK, that’s it for today, but if you decide to check out the Royals during the Chiefs’ halftime, enjoy the game.