Royals' leadoff spot walk in park for Gordon

Royals' leadoff spot walk in park for Gordon

Royals' leadoff spot walk in park for Gordon
DETROIT -- Since Alex Gordon assumed the full-time leadoff role for the Royals on May 27, the left-hander was batting nearly .330 heading into Saturday's game against the Tigers.

But for the season, Gordon has also transitioned and evolved his game so that he is drawing more walks for a higher on-base percentage.

Following a slow start, Gordon's OBP is at .364 thanks in large part to 44 walks through 82 games. Gordon finished with 67 walks all of last year. That's exactly what a leadoff hitter is supposed to do -- find ways to get on base and set the table for the RBI guys in the middle of the lineup.

"My mindset right now is to get on base for those guys that are driving in runs behind me," said Gordon, who also speculated on why his walks may be higher this season. "It could be that or that at times [opponents] are pitching me a little different now.

"The biggest difference is that first at-bat of the game when you're trying to see a few extra pitches and being pretty selective. You're trying to make something happen to start the game off on a good note."

Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said that Gordon has adjusted well to the leadoff spot, but that one of the challenges true for any player, who historically has hit not only leadoff but other positions in the lineup, is to treat every at-bat the same way.

"Alex has done a great job and he's a really good OBP guy for us," Seitzer said. "I think his mindset is that he needs to have good at-bats and get on base, whereas if he is batting in the three-, four- or five-hole, he feels like he needs to drive the ball well."

Manager Ned Yost says that he doesn't see Gordon as a long-term solution at the leadoff position. The skipper first started using the outfielder in that spot at times in 2011, when the Royals were struggling to find leadoff options.

"The reason we put him there is that we were struggling to score runs and he had the highest OBA on the team," Yost said. "I think [long term] Alex is more of a run producer."

Seitzer does like the different look that Gordon provides leading off in that he provides some pop to the lineup.

"With him up there, we have a guy who can do more damage and really drive the ball," Seitzer said.