Bash It Like Beckham

On August 13th of last year, 357 days ago, Gordon Beckham signed his first professional contract to play baseball, as the White Sox got him to put his John Hancock down two days before the signing deadline. Less than one year later, he might just be their best player.

Called up from the minors on June 4th, one week after being promoted to Triple-A, Beckham had a rough introduction to the big leagues. He went 0 for 13 in his first four games and looked a little rough transitioning from shortstop to third base. The was-he-rushed questions were inevitable, considering the White Sox had only let him rack up 250 plate appearances in the minors.

Beckham has answered those questions, and then some. Since he got his first major league hit on June 9th, he’s hitting .339/.398/.540 with 23 extra base hits and 17 walks in 197 plate appearances. He’s been even hotter than that lately – .416/.466/.675 since July 11th, spanning 88 plate appearances over his last 21 games.

Did I mention that this is his first year as a professional?

Even with the rough start and some struggles learning third base, Beckham has been worth +1.2 wins in 53 games with the White Sox. Calling up the youngster after just two months in the minors has been one of the main reasons the White Sox are still in the AL Central race. If the White Sox fans weren’t sold on their first round pick a year ago, they are now – this kid is the real deal.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

26 Responses to “Bash It Like Beckham”

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  1. EricG says:

    Not to be a downer and skeptic, but doesn’t it seem like a lot of his success so far is unsustainable? His babip is at .349 and he’s not exactly crushing a lot of line drives for it to stay at that level. Obviously he’s got a lot of talent, and a lot of his numbers indicate that he’s going to be successful in the bigs, but he’s not Evan Longoria (yet). His average and OBP look like they could come back to earth pretty quickly… without the average and OBP, would we be talking about him like he’s already adjusted and ready to play in the bigs?

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  2. Matt says:

    Eric: Sure, he might be in for some regression on his BABIB, but it’s not like this is Juan Pierre first half here. He is a great hitter, simply.

    If you want to compare him to Longoria his wOBA is 2 points higher than Evan’s his rookie year and Gordo is a year younger than Evan was as a rookie.

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    • killa3312 says:

      Longoria and Beckham were both 22 years old in their rookie season. Longoria was born in October of 1985 and Beckham was born in September of 1986. Longo debut in 2008 and Beckham in 2009.

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  3. dickey simpkins says:

    The lack of crushing/power may just be Beckham’s approach, at least for the time being. He’s the first White Sox hitter to actively look to hit to the opposite field in a long time (Magglio was probably the last one), just has an incredible knack to pull pitches.

    His line is all the more impressive considering how terrible he looked (at least to someone who didn’t follow his rise to the minors) for the first few weeks, at both aspects of the game, even though it’s still an adventure defensively.

    It’s pretty crazy to think the Sox are still in contention (albeit in a bad division) despite such a poor start to the season. I wonder if Kenny would have tried a firesale had Pods not been resurrected, and Beckham and Getz had a lot more struggles.

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  4. scott says:

    Save for a 28 AB stint in AAA, his numbers are pretty in line with his short career in the minors. I don’t think he’s Longoria by any stretch in regards to power, but I bet he’ll hit for a higher average than Longoria for the duration of both careers.

    If the Sox would at least entertain moving him to second and getting out-machine Carl Getz on the bench, he’d be an incredible asset to them. To compare him to other white second baseman, he looks to be equal parts Utley & Pedroia.

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    • U-God says:

      who is this carl getz you speak of?

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      • scott says:

        Google “Carl Getz” and I’m sure it will come up. The AL All-Star Ballot listed Chris Getz as Carl Getz. I refuse to refer to him as anything else for the rest of his career.

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      • scott says:

        “When the All-Star ballots arrived in the Sox clubhouse this past week, there was Getz’s name written on the ballot, a dream fulfilled for any baseball player, especially a rookie. But unfortunately, he was listed as “Carl Getz.”


        Before leaving the clubhouse on Sunday, I overheard Pierzynski calling Getz by his new name, which Chris later confirmed that “everybody is calling me now.””

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  5. Ryan W says:

    As a Sox fan, his development is a breath of fresh air for a team that sometimes seems held together by Reindsdorf’s checkbook and Kenny Williams’ spit and bailing wire. I would second the other commenters and just hope that next season they give him a shot to play in the middle infield. From what I know, he was never going to be Elvis Andrus with the glove but it should hold up at SS in the majors. A good to middling 3B should be much easier to find than a young, cheap, and good SS.

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    • Rob in CT says:

      The obvious example of this is Jeter, whose defense has ranged from average to plain awful, but his bat overcame it and then some. Beckham seems like a guy who might be able to do the same thing.

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  6. Rob in CT says:

    I saw a lot (far too much for my tastes) of him during the CWS-NYY series recently, when he merrily beat the snot out of the Yankees pitching staff (granted, so did several of his teamates). He looks like a good line drive/take a walk hitter right now, with room to grow & add some more power. Nice. The BABIP may come down some, but some guys sustain a high BABIP.

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  7. Matt says:

    Scott — I understand what your saying, and I was on the Beckham plays 2B when he comes up bandwagon forever, but I’ve seen the light.

    The Getz of the last two months is more like the 290/340/400 guy we though we’d have and less like the 250/300/350 guy he was for the first half.

    And, if Gordo goes to second who the hell plays 3rd? Fields and Betemit are both disgruntled and both of them suck horribly. After the Sox waived Betemit nobody has even bothered to claim him.

    Oh,and FNS.

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    • scott says:

      Getz is still in the negative for UZR, though, and his bat just doesn’t really hold up anywhere else. I’m not so sure I believe he’s going to be .290/.340/.400. I guess it’s possible, but he’s a butcher at 2B.

      Like the previous commenter said; it’s likely much easier to find a middling 3B than it is a 300/365/515 second baseman. Beckham looks like he’s getting better with the glove at third, but he’d obviously be much more valuable at second.

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  8. Daniel says:

    According to xBABIP’s quick calculator, Beckham is predicted to be at a .299 BABIP through 197 Plate Appearances, which is too bad, since he is really a very exciting guy to watch (and because I have allegiances to CHA). Granted, according to Statistically Speaking’s work, of the 7 factors accounted for in xBABIP only 4 are supposed to have stabilized by 200 PAs – GB rate, LD rate, FB rate and K rate (HRs at 300 PAs and FBs at 250 PAs) – so take xBABIP with a bigger grain of salt than you usually would. I don’t know the exact weighting for xBABIP (and I’m not going to take the time to break them out for this comment) but just something to consider

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  9. Mike Green says:

    The defensive weightings for third and second base are not very different. I have no idea whether Beckham is best suited for third, short or second. I have not seen a good description of the key elements as it applies to him- arm strength and accuracy, quickness, footwork/agility.

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  10. Matt says:

    Mike — he has a strong arm, more than enough for 2B. Glovework and range are another matter though, and I suspect that range to his right is probably why he’s best suited to 2B or 3B long time rather than SS.

    That said, if he can play a passable short (Jeter like) with a .380 wOBA than you say fuck it and go find a 3B or 2B.

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  11. Fresh Hops says:

    He works the count very well too, as is evident from his good BB/K ratio, low strikeout rate and good (for a .187 ISO guy) contact numbers. I see Beckham as one of the best infielders in baseball for several years. If I were the Sox, I’d want to see how he plays at short, but there’s nothing wrong with second or third.

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  12. Chitownsoxfan says:

    So if Beckham moves to Short then where do you put Alexi? Got to admit I am pretty pumped with looking at this team next year. Look at the rotation of Burhele, Peavy, Danks, Floyd, Torres. Then the lineup of (assuming they sign Dye and Pods) Pods cf Beckham 3b Dye rf Quentin lf Konerko 1b Ramirez ss AJ c Getz 2b. The prolem is who is going to DH? If you bring up Danks/Mitchell then Move Dye to 1b have Konerko DH and put pods in left Quentin in right and danks/mitchell in center.

    Either way you look at it with Beckham this team goes from hoping they are in contention to scaring the hell out of the Twinks and Tigers.

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    • scott says:

      Torres is terrible. Maybe not terrible, but not a major league starter. I’d start looking more at this Daniel Hudson kid. Kevin Goldstein keeps writing him up at BP in his minor league updates and Hudson is dominating AA right now. Mitchell isn’t close. Danks probably isn’t, either. Flowers though, I think, could be the starting DH next year.

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  13. MattR says:

    Anyone who’s watched Beckham regularly doesn’t cry “BABIP regression.” He simply tattoos the ball, and can put it anywhere he wants. He reminds me of Paul Molitor, only with power. In 2009 he already has hit 40 doubles across AA, AAA, and MLB. That would be tops in MLB. If only.

    His assets also already include surprisingly high baseball IQ/instinct (see again: Jeter) and an impressive work ethic, so there should be no reason why, with his tools, he can’t develop into an above-average-to-good fielder and baserunner. Mind over matter.

    Now, since being moved to 2nd in the batting order, Beckham’s been putting up Pedroia-like offensive numbers. Guillen and Williams have publicly stated they hope to have Beckham at 3b “for a very long time.” So if the power shows up as expected, with his plate discipline, Beckham could become an RBI machine and find himself in the thick of an MVP race by 2011. J-G-B! J-G-B!

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  14. dbuff says:

    He’s apparantly not over-awed by being in the bigs since he’s attempted 8 stolen bases even though his success rate is 50%. This is a young man who expects to succeed.

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  15. CH says:

    He’s in the company of Michael Young and Chase Utley on the “gamer” scale. You can tell he really enjoys the game, and as dbuff said, he expects to succeed. Great value pick where they snagged him, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make the all-star team more than a handful of times.

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  16. if i die 2nite i go with no regrets if its in ur arms den i kno i was blessed but if ur eyes r the last thing i see den i know the beauty heaven holds for me

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  17. Misty Zinzow says:

    I am not really fantastic with English but I get hold this real leisurely to read . comments by Eleonor Ibanez @ This news is mentioned in the email from Bette Sigafus @ <a href=??ttp:// tablet news

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  18. Mecza says:

    Reading this article makes me sad. Damn you Greg walker, damn you!!!!

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