Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Was Beckham snubbed?
Chris De Luca, who often writes about the White Sox for the Chicago Sun-Times, isn't incensed about Gordon Beckham losing the Rookie of the Year Award. He's incensed that Beckham somehow finished behind Elvis Andrus. De Luca's big finish:
As for Beckham, he was thrust into a key role with the White Sox, who were struggling to survive in a tight AL Central race. He was a star shortstop in college, but switched to third base to plug a glaring hole for the big-league club. Beckham had his struggles in the field, committing 14 errors for a .952 fielding percentage, but Andrus led all regular AL shortstops with 22 errors and had a .968 fielding percentage.
This wasn't about defense.
Beckham impressed most at the plate. Behind the numbers, he proved to be a clutch performer - a tall task for any rookie. With runners on base, Beckham hit .307. With runners in scoring position, he hit .323. And with two outs and runners in scoring position - ask any manager the importance of this stat - he hit .348.
Andrus, with two outs and runners in scoring position, hit .217. That's about what you would expect from a rookie.
Beckham was no ordinary rookie in 2009. He was a top-three Rookie of the Year candidate who got snubbed by a snoozing bunch of voters.
Well, this is a new one for me. All these years, I've been thinking the award voters weren't paying enough attention to defense, and now it turns out they've paying too much attention.
Look, Beckham obviously hit better than Andrus. He just as obviously didn't play defense nearly as well. He might have been a "star shortstop" in college, but that means he was a star and played shortstop. It doesn't mean he was a good shortstop. According to Baseball America, "Before the draft, scouts were split on his defensive ability ... His hands aren't the softest, and he'll have to work to get smoother at fielding grounders."
Beckham started 102 games. Andrus started 145 games. That's a massive difference when you're comparing two players. FanGraphs has Andrus being worth $13.7 million to the Rangers this season, and Beckham being worth $9.1 million. That's a fairly massive difference, too. If you want to throw in Beckham's clutch hitting, go ahead. If you'd like to give Beckham "credit" for switching positions and helping his club, go ahead and do that, too. Play around with the numbers a bit and you can close those massive gaps.
Can you get them close enough to mock the voters for preferring Andrus ahead of Beckham, though? Probably not unless you've got a rooting interest in the White Sox.