Reader Week: Gordon Beckham Sophomore Slump…So Far

There are certain players that shoot up draft boards due to hype and the promise of upside. Gordon Beckham was one of those players on draft day 2010.
After hitting .270/.347/.460 with 14 home runs and seven steals in his Major League debut, the foundation had been laid for a promising sophomore season.
Fast forward to today. Beckham is struggling mightily with a .190/.304/.252 line, only one home run and six RBI. The worst part? There is nothing in his stats that show a turnaround coming soon.

The first stat that looks out of whack is Beckham’s very low .241 BABIP. League average is usually around .300, so shouldn’t that tell us that Beckham has been a bit unlucky? Not really.

Consider how the ball is coming off of Beckham’s bat. To this point only 12.6 percent of his balls in play have been considered line drives. Line drives are more likely to turn into hits than ground balls or fly balls, so the fewer line drives a batter hits, the less likely that batter is to see a positive outcome in BABIP. Beckham hasn’t been unlucky, he’s been down right bad.
The other concern is strikeout rate. Beckham’s strikeout rate is currently at 24.3 percent compared to 17.2 percent last season.
Based on his track record in the minor leagues as well as his 430 plate appearances last season, Beckham should be hitting better than this. He has never struck out in more than 18 percent of the time as a professional through 150 at-bats. That gives fantasy owners some hope that things will turn soon. However, Beckham only held a 16 percent line drive rate last season, which is well below league average.
The only thing that can turn Gordon Beckham’s season around is Gordon Beckham himself. He needs to strikeout less and hit more line drives. Unless that happens, 2010 may forever be considered his sophomore slump.