Let’s face it. Yet again, we’ve been had by Dan Duquette.
Granted, there is no certainty in a 16-game sample, but Tim Beckham has gone above and beyond any expectations you might have had.
At the time of the trade, I wrote that the acquisition of Beckham, which came at no immediate cost, was yet to be determined. Even so, the upside that Beckham had shown made the deal an easy one to agree upon.
Yesterday, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron took the time to scribe that the Orioles, yes the Orioles, may have made the premier trade of the deadline. So far, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Not counting yesterday’s two-hit performance (including a walk and a home run), Beckham has slashed .484/.500/.855 as an Oriole, all of which equates to a 262 wRC+. While Beckham has essentially been the sentient version of the blinking guy GIF, there really isn’t that much that’s changed about his swing.
One of the things about Beckham that makes him so intriguing is that he’s always had a very simple stroke that’s been capable of producing power, but with a strikeout rate that doesn’t really coincide with his positional profile, he’s squandered a lot of chances to utilize his natural pop. As a member of the Orioles, Beckham has not only shown off the power, but he’s made such prowess routine.
It doesn’t take a baseball lifer to know that swinging at strikes makes a hitter’s life easier, and so far, Beckham has done that more often than not.
As we can see, Beckham hasn’t caught the free-swinging contagion that’s plagued a number of Orioles. As he’s strayed away from his career-norms, Beckham’s been much more selective. Not swinging at bad pitches and bending to the will of opposing pitchers is but a blurb in the Hitting 101 syllabus, because such a notion is more common sense. Beckham has always liked to swing, but it’s no coincidence that as he’s slowed the pace in favor of a better pitch, his contributions have flourished as a result.
As Beckham has made more decisive choices in his swing usage, he’s also shown some favoritism to right field, another signal that, if anything, he’s just really locked in at the plate.
This is the kind of swing that Orioles fans have been offered at what seems to be a daily basis. Letting the baseball travel, recognizing the spin and flashing the effortless power to every nook and cranny, Beckham hits a baseball at 106 MPH over the right-center field fence that many right-handed middle infielders are simply incapable of.
Of the five home runs that Beckham has hit as an Oriole, four of them have been to the less natural side of the field, and again, that all comes back to not trying to do too much. In a glorious turn of events, he doesn’t have to, because Beckham has the athletic tools to fill such a void.
Though Beckham’s favoritism to right field hasn’t reached a level of exclusivity, it’s where he’s retained the most success during a stretch you have to nitpick to source any scrutiny. Owning a .429 ISO to right field this month, much of Beckham’s August 256 OPS+ is a reward for his constant peppering the other way.
When you have a sample of nearly 70 plate appearances equating to a 1.355 OPS, there aren’t going to be many holes. Regardless, the success that Beckham has created to right field is a result of a lot of good things streaming together in perfect sync.
Cameron noted that Beckham has been on the receiving end of some luck, citing an August BABIP of .553. Surely some of that is true. Beckham’s seen some ground balls flirt underneath a few gloves, where his plus-speed has also contributed to an extra single or two.
While I do believe there is some fortune to be found and that every big league hitter is deserved to get his share of math-defying base hits, Beckham hasn’t been overtly lucky during this stretch of games. Much of what he’s done has been a blend of fundamentally sound hitting with a showcase of why the Rays deemed him the top pick in the draft.
Is this monstrous display going to be permanent? No, not a chance. But day-by-day, the Orioles are getting a baseline on a player that is gifted with inherent baseball qualities other clubs are not so savvy to receive. No mortal man is capable of doing what Beckham is over the course of 162 games. But that he is able to do what he is doing?
It certainly means something.