According to Gordon Beckham’s adjusted baseball math, the talented White Sox second baseman enters this three-game series in Texas carrying a .400 average. The official Major League Baseball statistics list Beckham as hitting .222 through 153 at-bats, so what change in scoring accounts for this huge differential?
Actually, it’s a change of feel at the plate turning Beckham into a .400 hitter.
“I told Walk (hitting coach Greg Walker) on Friday this is, in my opinion, the first game of the season because of the way I felt going into that game,” Beckham told MLB.com after Sunday’s 8-3 Interleague victory over the Dodgers. “I felt better. I felt like, ‘Let’s just start over here.’
“Since then, I’ve been hitting the ball well. Hopefully, that will continue. That main thing is I’ve been hitting balls hard and when you start doing that, you are going to get some balls to fall.”
Beckham has battled through his second high-profile slump in two seasons, after bursting on to the scene in 2009 and capturing two American League Rookie of the Year awards, which were both voted on by his peers. After hitting .199 as late as June 23 last year, Beckham rebounded to hit .310 the rest of the way and finish at .252. That number certainly would have been higher if not for a 6-for-32 Sept. finish after taking a Frank Herrmann pitch off of his right hand on Aug. 30.
In 2011, Beckham produced a trio of three-hit games and four multi-hit efforts over his first seven played. That hot start cooled considerably, with his average dipping as low as .194 at the end of April and rising to .230 or above just twice since April 20.
An off-day against Cleveland on May 19 helped him get away from a 4-for-30 slump over the past 10 games and go into this past weekend’s Dodgers series with that aforementioned new feel.
“It’s amazing what a feel will do for me. It’s just a totally different feel,” Beckham said. “It’s a relaxed feel, and when I’m relaxed, my hands work and I’m able to back up some balls and make good decisions. That’s what I’ve been doing my last three games.
“Unfortunately, I’ve been through this before. And I really feel like I’m out of it. I really feel like I’m out of that slump however long I had and my swing right now is good. It’s relaxed. It’s good. And I’m getting out of a slump a month and maybe a month and a half earlier than I did last year.
“So, you can look at that. I ended up doing what I did last year, and I can do better. I know that,” Beckham said. “It’s a matter of time before I start doing what I’m capable of doing. This weekend was just the start of it hopefully.”
His one hit on Friday was a two-run home run against Ted Lilly, and he added two hits and a walk in Saturday’s victory. The weekend concluded with a 1-for-3 showing on Sunday and three runs scored.
As Beckham indicated, there’s still plenty of ground to be gained. For example, the right-handed hitting Beckham is batting just .114 (4-for-35) against southpaws, and he’s batting .205 at U.S. Cellular Field. Beckham certainly is ready for the challenge, and to Beckham’s credit, while he has admirably dealt with a second slide on offense in two years, his defense at second has remained without fault.
“You have to play good defense,” said Beckham, who played his 61st straight errorless game on Sunday, dating back to Aug. 27, 2010. “That’s part of the reason I’m still here probably, playing defense and helping the team win, scoring some runs. Eventually the other stuff is going to come. I feel really good about where I’m at.”