[Gordon] Beckham gave every indication that he was ready for prime time. He hit the ground running with the White Sox in ’09, putting up a .351 Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) in 430 PA while earning the Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Award. Just 22 years old at the time, Beckham looked like a franchise cornerstone and a needed first-round success story for an organization that had recently been criticized for taking low-upside players like Lance Broadway and Kyle McCulloch.
Since then, however, Beckham has been sliding backwards. His wOBA dipped to .305 in 2010, and he’s the owner of a sordid .262 wOBA so far this season for a Chicago team whose park-and-league adjusted offense is 12 percent below average. In late April, White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker told the Chicago Sun-Times, “[Beckham]‘s swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone. He’s frustrated. He’s getting himself out a lot.”
Walker’s comments are spot-on. Beckham, described in Baseball America’s 2009 Prospect Handbook as possessing “unusual pitch recognition for a young hitter,” has devolved into one of the easiest outs in the majors. Take a look at Beckham’s outside swing percentages from 2009 to 2011, compared to the MLB averages during those years: …
UPDATE: Here’s Steve Stone’s take.