I'm Done With Gordon Beckham

As both a White Sox fan and as a guy who owns him in my AL-only league I'm sick of Gordon Beckham (or "Bacon" as we in Chicago with our thick accents call him) and I want him sent to the minors.

Currently Bacon is hitting .230 with an on base under .300 (.291) with a SLG of only .345 and he's hitting with Jack Wilson Power with a .115 ISO. He only has four home runs and two stolen bases. It's even frustrating watching Beckham at the plate.

This year Bacon is only hitting .267 off of fastballs being thrown to him according to ESPN.com. Hitting a fastball is just one of the basic fundamentals every professional baseball hitter should be able to do, and Bacon can not seem to do that right now. This year Bacon is having a career year (in a bad way) with his strike out rates and walk rate. Currently Beckham is striking out a little more than once every four at-bats (26.1%) and only walking a measly 4.9%. Bacon is also having a career year with a swinging strike rate of 11.8%, up 2.5% from in his 2010 season.

There appears to be very little evidence that Bacon's awful start is due to bad luck. Sure, his BABIP is nine points lower than his career average, but even if that normalizes, he bats .250 at best? Even if you could find some statistic that Bacon should be producing better than he is, I'm still pessimistic because he just looks like he has no plate discipline. All you need to do is watch Beckham swing and have no control over the strike zone to see how poor he's batting.

We are already 30% done with the 2011 season and this year along with last year is just evidence to me that Bacon should be sent down to the minors. Yes, Bacon was an elite prospect selected by the White Sox eighth overall in the first round of the 2008 draft. However, there was only 364 days between the time Beckham was drafted and when he became an everyday starter for the ChiSox. Gordon Beckham only played 7 games (50 at bats) in AAA Charlotte before getting called up.

Bacon batted in the #2 hole at the beginning of the 2010 and 2011 season, but after slumping and getting off to horrible starts both years, manager Ozzie Guillen moved Bacon down to the 8 or 9 slot and let Alexei Ramirez shine at the top of the line up. Ozzie made the move he said to help take the focus and attention away from Gordon. Admittedly the move has helped somewhat as Bacon is batting .284 in the month of May, however he also struck out at a higher percentage (34.3%) than he did in March and April (20.4%). I also don't see Bacon's May triple slash line (.284/.364/.418) continuing all season with his continued poor control of the strike zone (Bacon essentially had the same BB/K rate in May as he did in April/March) and his high May .395 BABIP.

In term of Bacon's defense I do think his game at second base has vastly improved since he started playing there at the beginning of the 2010 season. At first his play and range was sub par (at best) and made errors on simple plays or failed to turn easy double plays which showed in his overall -1.2 UZR/150 and -0.8 Fld. In 50 games in 2011 however Bacon has a 2.0 Fld and 6.3 UZR/150 which is the only reason Bacon's WAR is not currently below zero (it's 0.5). But until Bacon's bat follows his glove, I think he should stay in AAA.

To replace Beckham, I believe that Brent Lillibridge should play second (Lillibridge is an infielder by trade). With 119 less plate appearances and non-consistent playing time (although that is changing more of late) Lillibridge has more home runs (five to four) and stolen bases (4 to 2), a superior better ISO (.345), and a better triple slash line (.291/.375/.636) than Gordon Beckham. Sure Lillibridge's strike out rates, walk rates, and swinging strike rates look eerily similar to Beckham's, but at least Lillibridge is producing right now (also Lillibridge has a more normal BABIP) and at 27 years old, it finally looks like this prospect is performing like he should have.

Now let me be clear, when I say I'm done with Gordon Beckham I do not mean that I want the White Sox to trade him or that I don't think Bacon will EVER be able to hit. The dude is only 24 years old and there is still plenty of time for Bacon to be the player we all thought he could be after his rookie campaign. But I do believe Bacon's development is actually being stunted while in the majors and should be sent down to fix his mechanics and get back to basics in AAA before being on the major league squad again. Listen, I want Bacon to succeed. I want him to live up to his potential and to be the player we thought he would be but I do not think he can do that right now.