Batter’s Box: Bend It Like Beckham

I would say that, generally speaking, as a former number one overall pick, Tim Beckham has been somewhat disappointing. Now, he’s only 27, but nine years ago, he was the top...

I would say that, generally speaking, as a former number one overall pick, Tim Beckham has been somewhat disappointing. Now, he’s only 27, but nine years ago, he was the top pick of the draft, and he hasn’t lived up to that. But he’s having a career year this year, and ever since he joined the Orioles via trade, he’s been playing like a number one overall pick, slashing .500/.517/.897 since he came to Baltimore, and he continued that on Monday going 3-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. What’s been really interesting about Beckham’s season this year has been the power, it’s come out of nowhere. He’s got 16 home runs on the year so far, and the most he ever hit in his career in the majors was nine. Not only that, the guy has a .295 batting average on the season so far. So it’s fair to wonder exactly how real this all is. Well let’s get the batting average out of the way first: it’s going to come down. Right now, Beckham has a .397 BABIP, that’s not going to stay, and in all honesty, I see him more as a .260s/.270s hitter. Now the power: that I think is a bit more legit. He’s got a career-high hard hit rate this year at 42.2%, and not surprisingly, a career-high HR/FB rate at 21.6%. These are all career highs by a lot, and it’s why he’s all of a sudden on a 25 home run pace for the season. Now, I don’t think he’s going to get to 25 home runs (but I do think he’ll get to 20), I think he’s going to slow down a bit, because even with the increase in hard hit rate, I don’t think that HR/FB rate is going to stick. Not only that, Beckham’s fly ball rate has dropped significantly from past years, and amazingly his infield fly ball rate is just 2.7%. Here’s what all that tells me: he’s hitting fewer fly balls, and when he does hit a fly ball, it typically goes for a home run. That’s not sustainable. But, the increase in hard hit rate, the increase in his pull rate, these all signal that he’s made some sort of change, so I think the increase in power is legit, but not to this extent. Still, he’s on a ridiculous hot streak, so if he’s somehow available, I’d ride that as long as I could.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:

Manny Machado (SS/3B, BAL) – 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. I sincerely hope you didn’t sell low on Manny Machado before the All Star Break, because he’s been crushing the ball since then, and it’s all thanks to BABIP. Before the ASB, Manny was slashing .230/.296/.445 and his BABIP was .239. Since the ASB, he’s been slashing .339/.374/.551 with a .339 BABIP. It all evens out.

Edwin Encarnacion (1B, CLE) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. After a slow start to the season, Edwin’s right back to what you’d expect from him, and with four home runs in the past four games, you’ve gotta be happy with the production.

Rafael Devers (3B, BOS) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Devers has just been on fire since he was brought up by the Red Sox, and you’d be forgiven if you thought (like I did) that he’d spend some time on the bench once the Red Sox acquired Eduardo Nunez. Hopefully you didn’t drop him, and if you didn’t, you’ve been enjoying this amazing streak. He’ll slow down, obviously, but his plate discipline and batted ball stats all look excellent. Could he finish the year with 10-12 home runs batting in the .270s the rest of the way? No doubt. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next year.

Rougned Odor (2B, TEX) – 3-4, 3 R, 2 SB. It’s been a weird year for Odor, as his batting average has been pitiful, but the home runs have been there and he’s ramped up his stolen bases. His .236 BABIP gives me hope that the average will improve somewhat, but if you can deal with that, he’ll probably break 30 home runs and 15 steals by the end of the year.

Anthony Rizzo (1B/2B, CHC) – 3-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 5 RBI. First off, what a great game for Rizzo, which is why I felt the need to mention him. The other reason is because, congratulations, Rizzo is now second base eligible in ESPN leagues.

Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. After being talked about a ton while in the minors this year, Hoskins has finally come up to the majors and has been less than impressive. However, it’s just been five games, and after going hitless in his first four, he’s now hit two home runs in one game. He’s been in the outfield and will keep being there while Aaron Altherr is hurt. Hoskins is talented, there’s no denying that, but you wonder how he’ll adjust to the majors. Certainly Monday’s game is quite encouraging, and I think that, if you have the roster space, he’s certainly worth a speculative add.

Cory Spangenberg (2B/3B/OF, SD) – 3-3, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Spangenberg is finally living up to his first-round pick hype this season, though I think he’s certainly going to slow down. Over the past month, he’s been slashing .333/.405/.586 and has produced well all-around. He’s increased his hard hit rate a bit, which is a positive sign, however the elevated BABIP and HR/FB rate means he’ll likely slow down a bit soon. Still though, he’s available in around 84% of ESPN leagues so you might as well ride the streak while it’s still hot.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

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