Monday, May 20, 2013

Gordon Beckham: His absence makes us grow fonder

Jim Margalus had a nice update this morning on the status of two injured White Sox players -- Gordon Beckham and John Danks.

I doubt Beckham's surgically-repaired left wrist is back to 100 percent yet. It may not be 100 percent for the rest of the season, as evidenced by the video of him shaking the bee stings out of that thing after fouling a pitch off during his rehab stint with Charlotte Sunday.

But, Beckham is also 5-for-9 since joining the Knights, which suggests he'll be well enough to come back to the Sox sooner rather than later. That's especially true since second base has become a sinkhole for the Sox in Beckham's absence.

Jeff Keppinger and his .197 batting average have gotten the majority of the starts at that position since Beckham got hurt the second week of the season. Tyler Greene has played there as well. Greene has hit a little bit (.283 average), but his defense has been abysmal. For that matter, Keppinger's defense has been poor too. His lack of range at second has cost the Sox on numerous occasions over the last month.

That poor play at that position has Sox fans clamoring for Beckham's return. Hawk Harrelson is overstating it a little bit when he says Beckham is the best defensive second baseman in the American League, but there's not much question Beckham makes a lot more plays than either Keppinger or Greene.

When Beckham was healthy, quite a few people were ripping him because he has never lived up to his potential with the bat. He's hit .230 and .234, respectively, in each of the last two seasons. Some fans wanted him gone.

Well, for the last month, he has been gone, and we all see the results. His replacements haven't provided anything resembling an offensive upgrade, and there's no question the defense at second base has been markedly worse.

It's funny how people are now realizing just how important Beckham is to the team. No, he is not the franchise savior he was made out to be when he was first drafted and called to the big leagues. However, he provides well above-average defense at a middle-of-the-diamond position. He doesn't hit for high average, but he will contribute 20-25 doubles and 10-15 home runs from the bottom part of the batting order.

The Sox can do worse and have done worse at that position in the past (see Jimenez, D'Angelo). If you judge Beckham on what he is instead of what he was touted to be, you'll start to understand he brings legitimate value to a team. That's something we all should have learned by watching Keppinger and Greene bumble around the field like a couple of idiots over the last several weeks.  

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