Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is a defensive wizard who struggles mightily at the plate. Is there a way that Beckham can find a groove in 2013, though, and kick-start his offensive performance for the White Sox?
For Beckham and the White Sox, the unfortunate answer is no.
His performance the past three seasons tells the tale.
Beckham has hit .238, while averaging 12 home runs, 51 RBI and 97 strikeouts since 2010. Worse yet, his .303 on-base percentage over that span is one of the lowest in baseball.
Now, the White Sox coaching staff says that there are reasons to be hopeful. After all, he went on a streak last September that saw him hit .340 and compile a 1.116 OPS.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Beckham has given everyone a reason for optimism based on his statistics from the prior season.
Following a horrific start to the 2011 season, for example, Baseball Prospectus wrote that “the Sox should stand pat here and trust that the talented 24-year-old has another rebound in his bat.” They noted in the article that in 2010, Beckham hit .310 after the All-Star game.
Well, he finished the 2011 season with a .230 average and struck out 111 times.
It seems as though every year, Sox fans hear that Beckham is working on his batting stance—or his approach—and is finally set to realize the potential he flashed as a rookie in 2009.
In early 2012, Beckham told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that he “was too mechanical” in 2011 and had gotten back to being “loaded on time." He promised to "be smooth and easy and punish something.”
The 2012 campaign would be a different story then, right?
Not so much. While he did stroke 16 long balls last year, he hit .234, struck out 89 times and finished the season with a .296 OBP. Ouch.
This offseason is no different.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto told White Sox beat writer Scott Merkin last month about the changes he has been working on with the former first-round draft choice:
All that mechanical mumbo jumbo, what it comes down to is his hands are more direct, his bat path is cleaner, and we are seeing the results of it with the ball flight…Again, like any other hitter, he has to be short to the ball, and he is right now. The one thing we are working on is making sure he keeps his stride intact. It doesn't get too long and out of shape. Right now, he looks dynamite.
If Beckham looks “dynamite,” the White Sox are in trouble.
While he did have a RBI double against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, the rest of spring training has been a disappointment. There is absolutely no reason to be encouraged here.
Beckham has simply not been an offensive presence for the White Sox since his rookie year when he hit .270, put 14 balls over the outfield fence and drove in 63 runs.
There are no signs to indicate that anything is going to change.
Beckham could open the season as the White Sox second baseman, or as the utility infielder.
Wherever—and however much—he plays, there is little chance he will kick-start his offensive performance in 2013.
*Statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com