The Other Beckham Worth Keeping an Eye On

Among hitters with at least 10 batted ball events, Gordon Beckham’s 97.1 mph (99.2 percentile; highest in Beckham’s career to this point – 87.9 in 2016) average exit velocity (as found on Statcast) ranks as the third highest measure in the majors, trailing only Joey Gallo (97.8) and Aaron Judge (98.5). Beckham has a higher average exit velocity than Mike Trout (92.8), Cody Bellinger (94.8), and Christian Yelich (95.6). Furthermore, Beckham’s Brls/PA % (12.5) is tied (with Marcell Ozuna, Luke Voit, David Freese, Aledmys Diaz, and David Dahl) for the 20th highest percentage in the majors. To put it simply, Tigers utility infielder Gordon Beckham is tearing the cover off the baseball early on this season, but has little to show for it.

Graph via Baseball Savant

His batting line stands at .241/.313/.552 (as of April 20th), and he has been worth 0.2 fWAR in 32 PAs. Beckham’s xBA and xSLG are a much more robust .267 and .503, respectively. He has hit for some power (two HR and three doubles) as well. The Tigers have employed him all around the diamond (he has seen time at 1B, SS, and 3B) thus far, but it’s worth noting that he has not received regular playing time (appeared in 10 out of 19 games). Considering Josh Harrison boasts a .129 AVG and .205 OBP and Jordy Mercer is on the 10-day IL, Beckham will presumably see the diamond on a more frequent basis in the coming weeks.

Photo: Robin Buckson, Detroit News

Gordon Beckham’s most apparent flaw is his high propensity to strikeout. Currently, he is strikeout nearly 40% of the time (37.5% K rate). That is the 15th highest rate among batters with at least 30 PA (300 batters total). His 70.2% contact rate (238th highest), however, suggests that his strikeout rate is seemingly inflated…

K% percentile: 5

Contact% percentile: 21.7

If his strikeout rate were to stabilize into the 21.7 percentile territory, his K rate would likely land at around 28% (which is still not great).

Beckham, a very aggressive hitter, also lacks plate discipline. His 52.8% swing rate ranks as the 45th highest in the majors (he swings more than not). He is walking at a 6.3% clip. But when Gordon Beckham connects, it has been with lethality, making him an intriguing player to monitor in deeper fantasy leagues.

Launch angle is the phenomenon behind Beckham’s forceful start to the season, not his batting stance, as conveyed below…

2018
2019

His batting stance this year looks identical to that of last year.

2018 (graphs via Baseball Savant)

Launch Angle: 11.5

VS

2019


Launch Angle: 20.2

As a result, Beckham has been hitting significantly more line drives and fewer ground balls…

2018 batted ball profile

  • GB%: 42.4
  • FB%: 48.5
  • LD%: 9.1

2019

  • GB%: 35.3 (-7.1)
  • FB%: 41.2 (-7.3)
  • LD%: 23.5 (+14.4)

Ultimately, Gordon Beckham has unleashed dormant power with this new approach, and he is definitely worth monitoring in some deeper leagues.


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