You can't fool me with your fake hope anymore, Gordon! (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Gordon Beckham Is Hitting - Or Is He?


We’re all familiar with the Gordon Beckham story. He was the highest White Sox draft pick in a long time, and tore his way through the minor leagues after mashing at University of Georgia and in the Cape Cod League. In 2009, Beckham hit .270/.347/.460 with a quick bat that he used to flick pitches deep to right center for doubles. Then hopes failed and he decided hitting was for losers and that all the cool kids swing their bats really slowly with a big hitch in it. Beckham would hit .238/.303/.362 over the course of three years, over a sample large enough that it rewrites the type of player he is from Aaron Hill to something like Clint Barmes.

Gordon Beckham is a nice enough defensive second baseman, but he’s not as good as all of Hawk Harrelson’s hyperventilating either. So if he’s going to have an OBP in the low .300s, he’s really not worth much at all. This is Gordon Beckham’s first arbitration year, and he’s going to get more expensive as time goes on. It was one thing to have a glove only 2B on a rookie contract, but when you start having to pay $3-5 million for him instead of $500,000 it becomes less and less pleasant.

With all of this in mind, the fact that Carlos Sanchez was blitzing through the minors behind him, and the arrival of a semi-competent 2B in Jeff Keppinger, this was a huge year for Beckham. After an okay start, Beckham went on the DL for 7 weeks with a hand injury. During that absence, he was ludicrously touted as some sort of savior – the big bat and glove that was going to come back and turn the White Sox into a competitor. And hey, at a glance he’s hitting .301! That’s pretty good – it’s pretty much what his OBP has been for the past three years.

But there’s nothing in that .301 average. It’s completely empty. Step back and the whole line is .301/.337/.361. He has the lowest IsoP of his career so far by a wide margin, meaning his power has vanished completely – these are pretty much all singles. And he hasn’t traded his power for any real increase in contact skills – his K% is up at 19.1, the second highest of his career. Further, this is the worst BB% of his career as well.

It’s only been 90 plate appearances, but don’t let the batting average fool you. Beckham will be 27 in September, and evidence keeps piling up that the guy is a bench bat. As the losses pile up and rumbling for a rebuild grows (it’s not just me hysterically shrieking for one now), one has to wonder where he fits with the team moving forward. Carlos Sanchez has certainly stalled out hard in AAA, but they’re paying Jeff Keppinger $4 million AAV for two more seasons after this, and Conor Gillaspie is looking like a more interesting piece in the infield than Beckham at this point. Do you trade him? Is there anybody who even WOULD trade for Beckham at this point?

If Beckham is going to prove that he’s actually figured it out, he’s going to have to do a lot more than luck into some singles for a month.

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Tags: Chicago White Sox

  • Dusty Reynolds

    Beggers can’t be choosers. At least he is getting on base unlike the biggest loser on the team Dunn. I don’t ever care if you hit one homerun every 5th game if their is nothing else with that than you SUCK! You pick on paying Beckam 5mil you are paying Dunn at least 20mil to do less and play no defense so why point fingers at someone that is being productive. Last time I checked .238 is still better than .188. By the way with all those singles the coach should utilize it and putting him closer to the top or stay in the 9hole to be a second leadoff.

    • Nick Schaefer

      Dunn is certainly a bigger problem for the team, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • Dusty Reynolds

        The Whitesox are not the Yankees we can’t just pay a replacement I don’t consider good defense with a reasonable OBP to be a wrong. Agreed that if you could get a high prospect for him than trade him but most GM’s see the same #’s we all see and will only offer a mediocre prospect. In that case I would keep him and see if the potential could be turned around.

  • disqus_CXi6BKdUMR

    Yea you have no clue what your talking about. He has been having good at bats since he has been back. You mentioned that he is only hitting singles, however he has mixed in some doubles and has hit many hard outs which you fail to mention. Also, it takes almost a year for his wrist to be at full strength again so it is going to take time for the power to return. Can’t wait till he proves you that he is a good hitter.

    • Nick Schaefer

      I said “pretty much all singles” not “100%” singles. The fact that he isn’t hitting for power is captured in his slugging percentage. That’s what that means. You can argue that he’s hitting for power, but you would be wrong as a matter of fact – not opinion.

      You’re right to point out that wrist injuries can take a long time to recover from – the problem is, the power was already gone before the wrist injury. Coming into this season, over ~1,500 PAs he had hit .238/.303/.362.

      I’d love it if Gordon Beckham were a good hitter – and it’s not impossible that he figures it out again, because he was universally considered a good prospect – but the overwhelming evidence is that he has not been.

      Of course he blasted a deep double to center field today, which is encouraging, and that was what he did in 2009 when he was going well.

  • disqus_CXi6BKdUMR

    Is he still lucking into singles? I will keep letting him prove you wrong.