Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Gordon Beckham For Real This Time?

Ever since the end of Gordon Beckham's rookie season with the White Sox he's been a maddeningly inconsistent player. He rose through the team's farm system very quickly -- a trend around these parts -- was thrown right into the fire and responded well.

After 103 games in 2009, Beckham finished his first MLB season with 14 home runs, 63 RBI and a remarkable 28 doubles, finishing with a line of .270/.347/.460.

Aside from the home run total -- Gordo's hit 16 this season -- Beckham hasn't been able to surpass any of those numbers in the three seasons since. In fact, the majority of the time, he's been a liability at the plate. While we thought we were going to get the next Ryne Sandberg it turns out we've gotten Replacement Player for the most part.

Which is maddening in its own right, but even more with the flashes Gordon has shown at times in each season since.

Like clockwork, Beckham has had a knack for getting hot for a week and making you think he's finally figured things out only to disappear again and look lost for months at a time. Which is why I'm not getting my hopes up about the way he's currently playing.

Beckham has been on fire in September. In 14 games he has a line of .318/.412/.659. That gives him an OPS of 1.071 to go along with his 4 home runs and 10 RBI. He's raised his batting average from .231 at the start of the month to .239 now. His OBP has gone up from .285 to .297 and his slugging from .360 to .387.

That's not easy to do this late in the season with so many at bats and plate appearances under your belt.

It's the best month Beckham has had since July 2010, when he hit .354/.376/.573 in 23 games. That was the first time Gordon gave us hope, as his sophomore season saw him hitting .209/.275/.285 through the end of June, but after that July and a strong month of August -- his OPS that month was a superb .931-- we thought our future star had returned.

Instead Gordon would hit .188 in September and never really return again.

Until now, anyway.

As I said above, though, as Sox fans who have seen this act before, why should we be convinced that he's finally figured things out after 2,000 plate appearances? Is it the new batting stance that has Beckham in a bit of a crouch, reminding me of a less exaggerated Jeff Bagwell, the impetus behind this revival? It's a definite possibility, and a move that will only further prove Jeff Manto's worth to the team -- hey there, Alex Rios -- if the results continue.

What we do know for sure is that this isn't some kind of Brent Morel September trend. Before this season Beckham was a career .234/.310/.352 hitter in September. So it's not the annual September surge against expanded pitching staffs.

The only way we'll truly know if Gordon is here to stay this time will be if the White Sox make the playoffs. If he continues hitting against the pitching he'll see in October, then we should start believing in him once again.

Until then, however, I'm approaching with extreme caution.


  1. Instead Gordon would hit .188 in September and never really return again.

    When speaking of that horrid September I think it also bears mentioning that he did get nailed in the wrist by a pitch on August 31st, 2010:

    They brought him back way too soon and shut him down early.

    1. An excellent point, but it still had no bearing on 2011 or 2012.

    2. Unless his terrible hitting is(/was?) truly all psychological going back to the first time he experienced a significant injury in the major leagues... but I'm a wicked Gordon Beckham apologist and I just made that up right now. There are more valid theories, probably.

      I really didn't mean to imply that September 2010 had anything to do with the following seasons, just that there was a reason for his sudden decline that month.


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