After 2017, we can say that if a list of “Beckhams” were to be official and notarized, Tim would probably fall somewhere on par with Victoria, and slightly outranked by David and Odell. We’re looking for longevity folks, and like Posh, Tim only has one memorable collection of hits to his name.
If you wannabe higher on the list Tim, the Orioles are gonna see need to see more of the same.
Acquired at the midnight hour of the 4 pm ET July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, Tim Beckham didn’t just surprise, but he enlightened. In Tampa Bay Ray, the former first-overall pick slashed .247/.299/.421, aka a 97 OPS+, in four seasons with the Rays, where playing time slowly diminished as the 2017 season progressed. Brad Miller was force-fed plate appearances after his DL stint and Adeiny Hechavarria’s hot bat made Beckham expendable, unbeknownst to all but Dan Duquette.
Scrolling through Twitter the afternoon of the deadline, only to see the Roch Kubatko tweet informing Birdland Beckham was headed to Baltimore, elicited a strange response. For me, it was a mix between “why?” with a dash of “WTF”, but Duquette trades usually result in such. But as he has since taking over as the general manager of the Orioles, Duquette stumbled on a prize.
In Beckham’s 50 games with the Orioles, the 27-year-old slashed .306/.348/.523 equating to a 121 wRC+, 23 runs created higher than his career figure. It didn’t hurt that the entire month of August looked a lot like this:
With haste, Beckham made himself a fan-favorite. In his first month with the Orioles, Beckham posted a torrent 183 wRC+, the 10th-best August tally in baseball. His 1.062 OPS was 11th-best, while his .646 slugging mark was 12th-best. For a guy that doesn’t walk, Beckham pretty much hit everything he saw. Getting on base via singles to right or using his speed to extend hits in the gaps, Beckham went as far as hitting six home runs as well.
We saw everything, and then we saw quite a bit less.
September was a month of expected comeuppance for Beckham, as well as unfortunate injury luck. At the pace of a 58 wRC+ with a strikeout rate a notch under 33 percent, Beckham saw the tidal wave of August crash into his face. To boot, he missed most of the last two weeks of the regular season with a hamstring strain, giving J.J. Hardy a deserved farewell concert series.
As fun as Beckham’s offense was, it isn’t tough to see why his defensive reputation has been defined as lackluster.
To his credit, Beckham’s UZR has jumped from -2.1, to 1.3, and finally to 2.9 over the last three seasons. A -1 DRS this season isn’t terrible, but nothing like the 7.7 DRS Hardy maintained over his seven seasons with the Orioles. Beckham is obviously a very athletic guy that is pretty rangy, but the way he squares up—or doesn’t square up—to first base is very non-fundamental.
I don’t think his issue is going to be actually fielding baseballs, but rather getting the baseball to first base. He doesn’t throw all that naturally, and it makes you wonder how fixable that problem is. Though, if you can’t handle Beckham at his worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve him at his best. Monroe’d.
Ever yet, Beckham made up 60 percent (2.1) of his 2017 bWAR (3.3) in only 36 percent of his games, comparing 87 games with the Rays to his 50 with the O’s. Beckham was really, really good for a month, and then he faceplanted. Somewhere in there is a middle ground where Beckham’s game probably speaks more truth, but even when he played in Tampa with the annoyance of being a number-one pick, he was solid.
To see this kind of jump suggests that Beckham, who was already a perfectly OK major league shortstop, is capable of greatness. Whether that greatness is permanent, streaky or somewhere in between, the Orioles surrendered practically zilch for a good player whose position is somewhere up the middle. Maybe a change of scenery was all he needed.
Getting out of Tampa to rid the guilt of never reaching astronomical expectations was definitely a good thing. He can hide in Baltimore, and just be the player he’s capable of being.
Finding a shortstop was due to become a source of contempt this offseason, turning both Beckham’s addition and subsequent sample into one less headache.
That Duquette can be a crafty one!