Gordon Beckham: Not Buying Low

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.





With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

21 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dandy Salderson
11 years ago

Never understood the hype around this guy. He is a poor man’s Sean Rodriguez.

jaywrong
11 years ago

then you obviously are speaking from lack of knowledge. he looked awesome pre-pro. what’s going on now is a shame. but just tools and talent wise, his ceiling was utley, and the hype was more than justified.

Dandy Salderson
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

Interesting comment. The reality is that Beckham only had 259 PAs in the minors, so Im not sure what kind of conclusions can be drawn. S-Rod, meanwhile, OPS’d over 1000 consecutive years in 2008 & 2009.

Mike H
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

He sure as hell looked great in his rookie year. Good discipline and power to opposite field are signs of guys that will develop power.

Unfortunately it looks like pitchers found the holes in his swing. He seems to “guess wrong” very frequently, causing him to look bad on fastballs and lunge and make weak contact on breaking pitches. I don’t think he’s close to a bust yet, but he’s going to have to change his approach. I think he needs to get back to taking more pitche searly and looking fastball on fastball counts.

jaywrong
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

@salderson, pre-pro also includes, ya know, stuff before pro ball. my comment is more interesting when you include his time as a bulldog.

johngomes
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

mikeh u hit the nail…

college ball doesnt mean much, college pitchers, alum. bats…

I’ve been against SROD and beckham for quite awhile, but still lik SROD a bit more for his speed.

I never understood the hype about CHWS 3rd basemen *beck used to play there. j fields was ehhhh…

beckham gets fooled by breaking/offspeed stuff… they found holes in fields and beckham quick, and the fact that omar can play and still hit is concerning…

even if beckham is in the lineup he would hit 8th or 7th 80% of the time. thats a sure way to win a league. 😉

SKob
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

Yeah Jay! This guys was a beast in little league. Power to all fields, superb defense. His T-ball coach called him the best 5 year old he’d ever seen. I don’t know how he’s struggling right now!

jaywrong
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

@skob… you’re an idiot.

why else would i have to explain that in college, he deserved the hype…

(something you conveniently left out, as well as high school in your beetle headed remark. makes sense that you would as that’s where players are taken in the draft, making my statement valid, and yours completely unnecessary, just like your teeballs.)

SKob
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

@jaywrong… FYI, this isn’t Twitter!

Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to relax, take a joke, and pull your panties out of your crack!

Your comments make you sound arrogant and, ya know, Premenstrual!

Undrafted out of high school, the kid was not a top prospect after his first 2 years of college and then broke out in his junior year after which he gets drafted and plays all of… Zero FULL seasons in the minor leagues! If anybody besides an elementary school White Sox fan compared this kid to Utley, HE’S an idiot. There was NO descent track record for this kid and anybody who questions the hype surrounding him does not have a ‘lack of knowledge’, but rather a good knowledge of what it takes to become a major league baseball player. Don’t be douche and do some research!

jaywrong
11 years ago
Reply to  jaywrong

@SKob,

what does twitter have to do with this? and what does your menstrual period have to do with me? it wasn’t a joke you pulled off there. at the very least, it was a jab to prove something that i disagree with, and at most, it was a childish response to something that is commonly known, and that is beckham had recognizable skills and justified hype. i am not arguing the lack of ab’s at the minor league level.

you do your own research. i would refer you so some following links to help, since you would rather talk about the crimson tide. what’s next? talking about how your mother adopted you? how no one really loves you?

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2008/12/22/699896/chicago-white-sox-top-20-p

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2010/6/19/1525214/not-a-rookie-gordon-beckham

http://www.faketeams.com/2010/3/29/1394709/fantasy-baseball-keith-laws

are you saying some of this info shows john sickels and klaw have no “good knowledge”… or are you just saying you have no knowledge at all? those three links are just a start. just use your google machine to become enlightened mister fudger.

i’m done with this convo because i’ve won, and i know i’m right.

suck it? yeah, i think thats inflammatory enough for you to exhale and to type a super long response that i will never read. so enjoy that time to yourself.