Gordon Beckham: Not Buying Low by Eno Sarris May 5, 2011 Last year, Gordon Beckham hit .310/.380/.497 with six home runs and no stolen bases after the break. If he hadn’t done so, none of us would be talking about him as a buy-low prospect at all. There are just too many signs going in the wrong direction to be confident that he’s a lock for another bounce-back this year. Let’s zoom out on his career – this year’s numbers may not yet be in a large enough sample, but there are some worrisome trends that have continued so far in 2011. Since his rookie year, there’s been a drop across the board in many key categories. He showed nice pop in his rookie season – .190 ISO is above average for all players, and certainly above-average for second basemen. Too bad that number dropped to .126 last year and .104 so far this year. He walked at an above-average rate in his debut (9.5%) and has since dropped to 7.4% and now 4.3% this year. He stole seven bases and was caught four times in 2009. He stole four bases and was caught six times last year. He’s stolen one and been caught once this year. He swung and missed at 9% of his pitches at first, 9.3% last year, and 12% this year. 10.4% of his fly balls went for home runs, then 6.9% last year, and now 4.9%. It’s ugly, right? The more reliable numbers this year are just as bad: his plate discipline is shot right now. That swinging strike rate is almost in a reliable sample. Contact percentage is in a reliable sample, and he’s showing his career-worst in that category (79.9% career, 76% this year). Since batters have been swinging at pitches outside the zone at different rates over the past year, we can normalize that category to see that Beckham has gotten worse there, too: He swung at pitches outside the zone at 98% of league average in 2009, 110% last year, and 124% this year. His contact on balls in the zone has dropped 6% down from league average in that category. Put it all together and the picture is ugly. Over his career he’s shown less power and speed with every new year. His plate discipline has gotten worse, too. Add to those career trends some worrisome early-season problems laying off bad pitches and making contact with good pitches, and you have a player to risky to invest in, even at a buy-low level. In deeper leagues, you have to hold on to him in case another second-half surge is coming. Given his position eligibility, you might want to even hold him on your bench in standard leagues. But he’s probably not a strong buy low option.