Back in spring training of 2007, Billy Butler and Alex Gordon were thought to be the future of the Royals. It wouldn’t be long before the Royals had their own 1-2 punch in the lineup who could match up with any of the duos in the league. Fast forward to less than five weeks before spring training seven years later and I think it’s safe to say that while neither became quite the offensive force we had hoped for, they both became very, very good big league hitters and after being in the league for a few years, both are approaching some milestones in their careers. None of these milestones will get these guys onto Hall of Fame ballots or anything, but they’re something to look forward to and be talked about ad nauseam on the broadcasts as they approach. It’s not just Butler and Gordon approaching milestones, but it is mostly them.
Both Butler and Gordon are fast approaching 500 runs scored for their careers. Well, maybe not fast approaching when it comes to Butler, but he’ll likely get there in 2014. Alex Gordon is closer at 478 runs. Look for Gordon to get to 500 runs scored at home against either the Orioles or White Sox in mid-May. Butler’s a bit farther away at 445, but he hasn’t played a full season and scored less than 62 runs and will actually have a few good hitters behind him for the first time in his career. I may not be a big fan of the lineup construction Yost will likely put out there, but it will give Butler the chance to score some more runs this season. Circle August 11 on your calendar as the date Butler scores his monumental 500th run.
Gordon’s the only one who is getting close to a milestone. He’s at 894 hits, so he should have no problem making it to the 1,000 hit milestone. When he reaches that, he will become the tenth player to get to 1,000 hits while wearing a Royals uniform. Butler is a bit ahead of him on the hits front as he became the ninth last year. Gordon will likely pass Freddie Patek for ninth on the team’s all-time list, but a great season could get him into eight place past Joe Randa as well. Gordon should get there before the All-Star break, but just before as I see it happening sometime during the series against the Tigers right before the break.
Like the runs milestone, Gordon and Butler are both approaching 250 career doubles. If Butler doesn’t get there, it means he got hurt because he’s at 244. Luckily for Butler, the Royals travel to Baltimore April 25-27 and he just loves hitting there. That’s my estimated date of his reaching his target of 250 doubles. Butler is 53 doubles away from tying Mike Sweeney for fifth in team history, so that’s something to watch for, but that would be a pretty amazing season. Gordon’s path isn’t quite so clear. He’s only at 210 doubles and is coming off a year where he only had 27. Call me crazy, but I think Gordon gets to the 250 double mark in the last road trip of the year.
Gordon is 91 runs batted in away from 500 for his career. He’s averaged 80 per season since turning his career around during the 2011 season, but has spent a lot of that time in the leadoff spot, which has hurt his RBI opportunities. Again, I don’t like the idea that Gordon is going to get pushed as far down in the lineup as he appears to be, but he’s going to have plenty of chances to drive in runs, so I think he gets his 91 in 2014. Look to the game against the Yankees on September 6 for Gordon to knock in his 500th career run. As an added bonus, I think he’ll get his 100th RBI of the season against the Tigers on September 20.
Extra Base Hits
Butler and Gordon are back again and are chasing 400 extra base hits in tandem. As with most of the milestones, Butler has a much easier path as he has 366 extra base hits in his career, so the only thing that will stop him is likely an injury. Gordon has 332 extra base hits, so it would require 68 extra base hits for him. I’ll end the suspense right here. I don’t think Gordon gets there in 2014, but I do think it’ll be relatively close. I think Butler gets to his 400th extra base hit on June 8 against the Rays. When Butler reaches the milestone, he’ll be the seventh Royals player to do so. 48 more extra base hits and he passes Willie Wilson for sixth in team history.
Alcides Escobar is the first non-Gordon or Butler player to make the list of approaching milestones and it’s a minor one, but he’s 17 stolen bases away from 100 steals for the season. My guess is he gets there in Chicago against the White Sox after the All-Star break.
Greg Holland is the only pitcher on the Royals staff who is anywhere near a milestone, and that’s for a number of reasons, but most of them are because the Royals haven’t developed much of anything over the last few years. Holland is 33 saves away from 100, and when he gets there, he’ll be the fourth Royals pitcher of all time to get there. He’s already fourth on the active list, though, and is 93 away from Joakim Soria for third on the Royals all-time list. I’m going to guess he doesn’t make it toÂ that, but let’s give him his 100th save against the Giants on August 8.
There are three other milestones Royals players are on the verge of, but none are exactly what you’d call mainstream. I still wanted to include them here. Eric Hosmer is 17 doubles away from getting to 100 for his career. Getting there will get him to 28th on the Royals all-time list, but a 40 double season would get him into 21st in a great position to move into the top 15 by the end of the 2015 season. Alex Gordon has yet another milestone as he’s 210 times on base away from getting to 1,500. Based on his last three seasons, he’ll get there right around the time the calendar flips from August to September. The most important milestone left is that Billy Butler needs 19 doubles players to move into second on the team’s all-time list. To get there, he’ll pass Amos Otis, Frank White and Hal McRae. Of course, he’ll still trail George Brett. That one is the big one to watch out for.
Hopefully we get some real news to talk about soon, but for now, we can take a look at the milestones that Gordon and Butler are approaching for the 2014 season. That season can’t come soon enough.
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