Concerning Gordon Beckham’s Redeeming Qualities

Writer’s Note: Gordon Beckham ranked 31st in Zach Sanders’ season-ending rankings among second basemen.

The 2013 season marked the fourth-straight season in which Gordon Beckham finished with an OPS under .700. In fact, in two of the last four seasons, Beckham has had an OBP under .300, with more than twice as many strikeouts as walks in all four of those seasons.

In essence, those four season’s encapsulate the essence of Beckham, whose remarkable ascent to the big leagues came one year after he was the first round pick (eighth overall) of the White Sox. Beckham signed in August of 2008, and by June the next year he was a fixture in the Pale Hose lineup.

That first year was rather good to Beckham, as he took over third base from Josh Fields and never really relinquished it. In 103 games totaling over 400 plate appearances, Beckham hit .270/.347/.460 with 43 extra-base hits, seven steals, and a solid 1.6 K/BB rate.

But that season pretty much sums up the modicum of success he’s had at the big league level. Since his rookie season, he’s hit .244/.306/.364 while almost exclusively playing second base for the Sox. Beckham’s second half in 2010 gave many fantasy writers — this one included — optimism for the future. Through the midsummer classic that year, Beckham had hit .216/.277/.304 before turning on the jets to the tune of a .310/.380/.497 second half.

The next best half-season split Beckham has had in the interim was in the first half this year, when he hit .335/.357/.443 in just 44 games. But then he sputtered to a .616 OPS in the second half, and further cemented himself as a night-and-day player with little to no predictability as to which is which, and why.

Here’s a look at Beckham’s month-by-month splits from 2013:

Month Triple-Slash K/BB
March/April .316/.333/.316* 5/1
May DNP (Fractured Hamate Bone) DNP
June .308/.344/.396 13/4
July .303/.337/.447 10/4
August .240/.322/.356 11/11
Sept/Oct. .210/.281/.309 17/8

Between the broken hamate bone and how he finished down the stretch, it’s awfully hard to find anything redemptive about Beckham’s 2013 season. It’s worth noting that he missed time down the stretch with a strained wrist; the same one that he had surgically repaired earlier in the season. His best months came immediately after the injury, while the re-aggravation seems to have thrown cold water on any hopes that the surgery had fixed his woes.

If Beckham had laid down a strong body of work prior to these injuries, he’d look like someone to acquire as a possible fantasy sleeper. Though, if one wanted to believe that his re-aggravation is something he can overcome over the offseason, and he can return to his post-surgery success…well, that’s a line of thinking that could certainly justify selecting him late on draft day rather than a waiver pickup in the first couple weeks.

Even breaking into Beckham’s batted-ball rates proves tiresome. He posted the best line drive rate of his career (good), the lowest pop-up rate of his career (good), and also his lowest strikeout percentage to date (good). And still, the .306 wOBA. The biggest issue with Beckham is that he can’t play second base (-48.9 runs below average in four seasons at second base; +8.4 in one year at third) and doesn’t have the bat — at least in its present state — to stick at third. That’s sort of a quandary.

Now, the biggest sleeper potential may lie on if he gets out of Chicago. The latest reports from a few White Sox beat reporters are that the Blue Jays could have some interest in him. According to StatCorner, the Rogers Centre is an amazing park for non-homer extra-base hits — largely Beckham’s offensive game when he’s right — whereas U.S. Cellular plays up more for home runs than doubles and triples.

It’s not necessarily a situation worth monitoring closely, but rather if you completely fall over yourself and forget selecting a second baseman until the last couple rounds.

In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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I think there’s a mistake in the defensive numbers there. Beckham is +9.8 runs defensively from 2010-2013. He’s not an awesome defender (certainly not “best in the league” as Hawk would claim), but he’s not bad either.


Yeah, the -48.9/+8.4 numbers are his offensive numbers. He’s solid with the glove.