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Circling the Bases: Giving up on Gordon Beckham

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

BREAKING DOWN: Gordon Beckham
.237-9-33-45-5 in 388 at-bats

At what point do we admit defeat with Beckham? Each year he enters spring with a world of hope, but over the last two seasons he has not only failed to live up to expectations, he's basically been a worse than average big league performer. Just take a look at some of the terrible numbers he has posted over his last 246 games.

His .245 batting average is worse than the big league average of .259.
His .307 OBP is worse than the big league average of .325.
His .350 SLG is worse than the big league average of .406.

Per 832 at-bats, his total the past two years, the big league average is 24 homers. He has 18.
The big league average for RBI is 105. He has 82.
The big league average for runs scored is 110. He has 103.

If it weren't for his highly impressive first campaign in the big leagues (he hit .270-14-63-58-7 in just 103 games) there would really be no reason to look at him as anything more than a middle infield option in AL-only leagues. Even if we add in his good work as a rookie we're still left with a hitter who owns a career slash line of .253/.320/.391 which is, yet again, worse than the big league average in that time (.261/.329/.413).

Over his first two seasons he was a better performer in the second half, especially last year when his OPS went up .296 points (.581 to .877). However, showing just how arbitrary selecting any date is for analyzing a player, he hasn't shown that second half kick this season as he's actually hit like a second string defensive minded catcher (.218/.271/.282).

The totality of Beckham's work this season also doesn't bring the warm and fuzzies – at all. On the year he has a horrible 5.3 percent walk rate. It's the worst of his three year career (7.4 percent for his career).

He has a poor K-rate - 20.7 percent. It's the worst of his three year career (18.1 percent for his career).

His GB/FB rate is 0.93. It's the worst of his three year career (1.03 for his career).

Are you feeling the excitement?!

His swing percentage on pitches outside the strike zone is 39 percent. Guess what? That's a career worst (32.4 for his career). He's also making more contact that ever on those swings at pitches outside the strike zone at 67 percent. It's also a three year worst. Oh, and his contact rate on all the pitches he is swinging at is 77.7 percent – another three year low.

I don't know what to tell you other than this.

(1) Beckham has been a terrible mixed league option the past two years.

(2) He hasn't shown any growth whatsoever. In fact, it can be easily argued that his production has not only stalled, it's taken a turn for the worse.

(3) There is nothing he is doing right now that says he is anything other than a league average performer – at best.

If you own Beckham in a keeper league it might be time to move on.

BREAKING DOWN: Brandon Morrow
9-7, 4.41 ERA, 154 Ks, 1.24 WHIP in 132.2 IP

When you have an arm like this guy so much is expected of you. Has he lived up to those expectations this season? The answer is certainly no. However, I'm here to tell you that there are improvements being made in Toronto with this talented right-hander who simply needs to learn how to flash more consistency on the mound.

Let's look at his last 10 starts. In that time he has gone 6-3. Twice he has struck out at least 11 batters. Three times he has allowed one earned run, and four other times he has allowed three or fewer earned runs. However, he's also had an outing in which he permitted three homers, an effort in which he allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings.

Consistency eludes him, but what about the improvements that I spoke of earlier? Let's compare his 2010 effort to what he has done to this point in 2011 (he's only 13.9 innings behind his innings pitched total from last season).

2010: 4.49 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, xFIP 3.48
2011: 4.41 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, xFIP 3.32

The ERA and xFIP are virtually identical but his WHIP has taken a nice dip. Why? Let's look at the next set of numbers.

2010: 10.95 K/9, 4.06 BB/9
2011: 10.45 K/9, 3.39 BB/9

Amongst pitchers who have tossed 275 innings since the start of last season, Morrow is first in baseball with a 10.71 K/9 mark. Not just first mind you, but a full batter ahead of the number two man, Tim Lincecum of the Giants (9.70). Add to that massive K rate the fact that he's lowered his walk rate to the big league average, and now we're starting to see some things. As a result of the walk reduction his K/BB ratio is over three at 3.08, and that hints at the potential for some big time success moving forward.

2010: 0.68 HR/9, 0.97 GB/FB, 17.8% LD-rate
2011: 0.68 HR/9, 0.83 GB/FB, 23.0% LD-rate

His homer rate has remained completely unchanged as has his fly ball ratio (41.8 percent last year, 42.0 percent this year). His problem this season has been an inordinate number of line drives. For his career Morrow has a 19.4 percent mark, right in the middle of the 19-20 percent mark that we associate with the league average. Given that, and his pure “stuff”, it's pretty clear that his line drive rate should recede moving forward.

So let's sum it up. Morrow has an amazing strikeout arm, as good as any in the bigs. He's still walking batters at a league average rate, but he has shown substantial improvement. His fly ball and homer numbers have remained nearly identical the past two years. His line drive rate is far too high and it will regress.

Morrow has to prove he can take the ball 30 times a year before he can be looked at as a legitimate staff ace, but with this skill set placing the expectation on him being one of the breakout arms of the 2011 season seems perfectly reasonable.

WHO AM I?

I've always been pretty good, though few seem to really take note of it. It's been more of the same in 2011.

I have 11 victories, the same total as Colby Lewis, Felix Hernandez, James Shields and David Price.

I have the same WHIP, 1.19, as King Felix and Scott Baker, and it's better than the marks of guys like Jon Lester (1.20), C.J. Wilson (1.20) and Jair Jurrjens (1.21).

I'm tougher to hit, judged by my .251 batting average against, than guys like Yovani Gallardo (.252), Tim Stauffer (.258) and Max Scherzer (.268).

I've won at least 10 games each of the past four years (including this season). Currently there are only 16 other hurlers who are in that club.

Since the All-Star break I have gone 5-1 with a 1.00 WHIP over 44 innings. I also have posted a sensational 5.29 K/BB ratio (37 Ks, seven BBs).

Who Am I?

BY THE NUMBERS

0: The number of times that a catcher has hit 25 homers with 80 RBI and 95 walks in a season since 2000. I mention that because that is a pace that the Indians' Carlos Santana is currently on. Santana has been hot of late hitting .324 with four homers and 14 RBI in 16 games, and he's also hitting .304 over his 25 games, 20 of which he has produced a hit in.

.329: The batting average of Joe Mauer over his last 38 games played. That's hardly a surprising number for a man who owns a .324 career mark (his overall batting average this season is .291). However, what is disheartening is that he has hit just one homer in 254 at-bats. Face it, the 28 homers he hit in 2009 was a total fluke. In his other six seasons he has hit more than nine homers just one time with 13 in 2006. Moreover, since the start of last season, a span that covers 206 games, Mauer has gone deep just 10 times.

1.64: The number of hits per game that Ichiro Suzuki will need to average the rest of the way in order to reach 200 hits for the 11th straight season. Can he do it? For his career he has averaged 1.39 hits per outing. He's not going to make it. Thus will end one of the most remarkable runs of hitting the game has ever witnessed. Wee Willie Keeler is second all-time with a run of 8-straight 200 hit seasons from 1894-1901 when it wasn't even the same game. In the modern game, the closest competitor was Wade Boggs with his streak of seven straight from 1983-89.

2: The number of times this season that Tigers' ace Justin Verlander has picked up a “W” in seven straight outings. He's currently operating on such a streak and he also pulled off the trick from May 29 through June 30. The last big league pitcher to pull off that double play was Frank Viola in 1988. The last Tiger to do it? How about Denny McLain in 1968, when he was the last man to win 30 games in a season (he went 31-6).

5: The number of Braves' hitters who are in the top-15 in the NL in batting average since the All-Star break. Here's a look at the five – Jose Constanza (.373, 6th), Chipper Jones (.370, 7th), Dan Uggla (.345, 11th), Michael Bourn (.340, 12th) and Freddie Freeman (.336, 15th). The club also leads the NL with 47 homers since the break thanks the ML leading 15 hits by Uggla.

13: The NL leading extra base hit total of Garrett Jones in the month of August. Jones has gone deep five times while hitting eight doubles for the month. He's also knocked in 12 runs and hit .303 in 21 games on the month. He's still striking out though with 20 punchouts, which are actually the most he has racked up in a month this season. Here is his odd monthly trend in the batting average category which may not portend solid production in September - .265, .179, .297, .183 and .303.

17: The number of career victories that Bruce Chen has in the month of August. In 32 career starts in the month he is 17-9 with a 3.90 ERA. In addition, he's actually been a pretty fair hurler over his last 24 starts dating back to August 29th of last year as he has gone 12-5 with a 3.70 ERA. I know, who knew?

I AM...

The White Sox' Gavin Floyd.

Floyd continues to be a frustrating start from outing to outing, check out his monthly numbers this season:

April: 3.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
May: 3.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
June: 5.23 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
July: 3.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
August: 7.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Still, he's posted 11 victories with a 1.19 WHIP on the year, so there are certainly situations in which he is a solid play – namely being when he is on the road (3.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP). You don't want to touch him when he's pitching at home (6.36 ERA, 1.29 WHIP).

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.