Tap-In Question: What's your take on what Tim Beckham will become in his big league career? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
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Tap-In Question: What’s your take on what Tim Beckham will become in his big league career?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Of all the players the Orioles are counting on next season, Tim Beckham is probably the biggest mystery.

We here at Connolly’s like a good mystery. Like what’s floating in the plastic jar of whiskey at the corner of this fake bar. What’s a good tip for a phony barkeep?

And what, ultimately, will Beckham become in his big league career?

Beckham joined the Orioles after the July trade deadline and was a revelation in August, batting .394 with a 1.062 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, six homers and 19 RBIs in 29 games.

It looked as if the Orioles had pulled off the heist of the 21st century, acquiring the former No. 1 overall pick from the Tampa Bay Rays for a Low-A pitcher.

Reality struck Beckham in the final month of the season, when he slashed .180/.255/.348 and defensive lapses on routine plays opened the door for a shortstop switch this offseason.

Now, Beckham is penciled in as the Orioles’ 2018 starting third baseman, unless the club adds a veteran at the hot corner in the next few weeks.

At this point in his career – he’s 28 and entering his 11th pro season – Beckham simply wants a regular role in the big leagues and is willing to do what it takes to secure that.

On a personal note, Beckham has been a tough read since he joined the Orioles. He bonded with new teammates Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado and seemingly has fit in fine in the clubhouse.

He definitely isn’t a fan of talking to the media about his past, including his time as baseball’s top pick in Tampa, and he smartly tiptoed around the superlatives thrust at him in August — understanding that baseball is a game of peaks and valleys. He may not be effusive, but he does make himself available for the media.

And he has quickly demonstrated a genuine interest in young fans. He was an active part of the club’s Christmas party in December and, on Saturday, he is hosting his third annual free baseball clinic for children ages 6 to 14 in suburban Atlanta. That’s pretty cool, and says plenty.

So, I’m curious to see what happens with Beckham this year. To see if he grows more into a leader in his first full season as an Oriole. To see if he can handle the hot corner, and to see how he handles everything if he struggles in 2018.

I’m also curious to see what he does offensively. Depending if the Orioles add anyone before Opening Day, Beckham could be the club’s primary leadoff man. It’s not necessarily a spot that fits his skill set so far – he has a career .310 base percentage and a .299 OBP in 54 games at leadoff. He also has struck out 303 times in 941 big league at-bats.

But he’s also probably the easiest player to bat leadoff without affecting the rest of the lineup.

I think Beckham will be fine in 2018, not as good as he was in a terrific August but better then he showed in a hollow September. At Fanfest, though, I talked to several fans who were down on Beckham, questioning whether he was a legitimate starter in the big leagues.

So, I want your opinion. What do you think Beckham will end up being in his O’s career?

Tap-In Question: What’s your take on Tim Beckham so far as an Oriole?

 

 

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. boss61

    February 1, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Good morning Dan and thanks again for a timely article. I like Beckham, I’m glad we have him, and I believe he will see 130+ starts unless he is injured.

    I expect most of them at shortstop because I do not believe Manny remains on this team for long at all. No reasonable manager lets any player dictate where and how he is used. Further, because I do not expect the O’s to contend for anything but a very high amateur draft pick, I cannot see Dan Duquette not moving Manny for whatever we can get.

    In other words, it’s rebuilding time. Beckham will be part of that rebuild, at shortstop. Melvin Mora 2.0.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Interesting thoughts and interesting comparison. Mora was an above-average player for a long time but wasn’t full-time until he was older. Drink chip.

    • thebookdoc

      February 3, 2018 at 5:22 am

      I was thinking exactly Melvin Mora as well, and have mentioned it elsewhere.

  2. ClyOs

    February 1, 2018 at 8:00 am

    I agree with you Dan. I think Beckham will be fine in 2018, at least offensively. He has around 1000AB for his career, so he is just getting his feet wet so to speak, but really came on last year with his bat. Yes, he strikes out too much, but he’s an Oriole now. Orioles hit home runs, strike out too much, and play good defense. And I think that is the question, where does he fit in defensively? He committed the second most errors in the league last season, but only played in a 119 games defensively. Most of his errors were on routine plays or bad throws. I think he will start at third and bat leadoff until Machado is traded. Then who knows.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

      Bobby Dickerson is a really good infield coach. We’ll see whether he can tweak things in spring to help Beckham.

  3. Kess0990

    February 1, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Good Morning Dan,
    I personally think Beckham will move to back shortstop if we part ways with Machado. if Schoop and Machado both leave i would place him at 2nd base to eliminate some of his throwing errors with the short distance. Our Prospect Ryan Mountcastle will soon need to be developed as an everyday 3rd baseman for the Orioles in preparation of Schoop, Machado, or both leaving in free agency

    • Kess0990

      February 1, 2018 at 8:20 am

      If both Machado and Schoop leave. We could target Elvis Andrus, Brian Dozier, or Daniel Murphy in free agency and place Beckham at Shortstop or 2nd around 1 of those 3 being signed. Mountcastle would take 3rd

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Kess: you bring up a great point, Mountcastle. He is the future, but there are a lot of people that don’t think he is a 3Bman. He might be best at first ( which is currently blocked). This will be a big year for him at Bowie.

    • Kess0990

      February 1, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Once we get rid of Trumbo with his horrible no trade contract and Davis ages more. Davis could move to an every day DH and Mountcastle take over duties at 1B

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 1, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Hey it’s up to Tim, but I’m looking for the guy to make an all star appearance some day for the O’s. Who’s with me?

    And I’m with ClyOs above, in that he hasn’t even had 1000 Major League at bats as of yet … and haven’t I heard “the experts” say that it takes about 1500 before you are what you are, so to speak?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:39 am

      Yep. Despite his age and years in pro ball, he’s still pretty young when it comes to MLB time.

    • thebookdoc

      February 3, 2018 at 5:27 am

      I read an interview with Beckham who seemed inspired by playing with JJ. He wanted to play GG caliber short. I bet he can given the opportunities to apply himself. I’m looking for him to continue to surprise as a player. I’m liking Duquette’s pickups so far. Nothing flashy, but the possibilities are there.

      With you Boog…

  5. bigdaddydk

    February 1, 2018 at 8:28 am

    Sometimes a change of scenery does a player good. As I understand it, Beckham’s discontent in TB was due to playing time more so than position. If that’s the case, getting him on the field will have him happier and more productive. That, and the fact that we have nobody else yet to place at 3B, leads me to believe that he’s going to get those starts. Personally, I’m not a fan of the move, regardless of whether SS is Manny’s “natural” position. They’ve gone to having two players adjust to new positions (new in that neither has played extended time at either one in the last 5 years) which I don’t think bodes well for the left side of the defense. In time, it may work itself out. In the immediate sense, I’m concerned about weakening the defense behind a suspect rotation. Then again, that could be of little concern when balls are hammered into the gaps and the responsibility falls on our outfield defense that has one actual ML outfielder in it, one who is learning as he goes (admirably, I’ll add,) and one who has no business anywhere on the field except 1B.

    Now, all of that said, I look at Beckham as a kid who has shown some spark since he came to Baltimore. Sure, September was awful. I don’t expect he’ll duplicate that, nor do I think Ted Williams or George Sisler’s hitting marks are going to be challenged by him because I don’t think August was a legitimate indicator of who he is. I think we’ll see someone who goes through streaks where he clobbers the ball and streaks where he has trouble getting on base because he seems like a hitter who can get streaky like that. I suspect that we will see him make improvements in the field, and maybe 3B is a good place for that. Throws seem to be what give him problems more that the glove work. I’d look for him to show some improvement there and become solid, albeit not spectacular, on defense. It will help him to have a really good glove at 1B. It will also help that balls hit to 3B don’t give you as much time to think as much as react to them. In a nutshell, I think Beckham is better than serviceable, but he’ll never be an all-star either at 3B or SS. Once Manny is gone, I could see him move back to the middle infield either at SS or at 2B if Schoop shifts over. If he’s not our leadoff hitter, I don’t know who will be because we don’t really have one. If he keeps his OBP at or above .330, we’d have to consider that to be a tremendous boost from him. Time will tell.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:48 am

      I’m gonna have to get you your own bar, big daddy. Good, reasoned stuff. Drink chip.

  6. karks

    February 1, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I sort of think moving Manny to SS is as much about giving Beckham a chance to play 3B as anything else. He just doesn’t seem to be consistent enough at SS. Perhaps moving him over gives him more focus on his defense.

    Offensively, I can see him becoming a decent threat. He’s not going to hit gangbusters like he did when he first came to the O’s. But maybe he’s a guy who hits 15-20 HRs a year. Combine that with improved defense, and you’ve got a nice player. Maybe not the #1 overall pick type of career, but an above average player to be sure.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Good take. He certainly has the arm strength for third.

  7. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    February 1, 2018 at 8:54 am

    I think Beckham needed a fresh start. He was the number one pick overall and expectations of being a star. That type of pressure can lead to pressing and poor performance. I think this is what happened to him. He probably will never achieve star status but can be a productive player regardless of his role.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:51 am

      To me that should be the ground. Too talented not to be a productive big leaguer. But we all know you need more than talent. Will be interesting.

  8. TheWalkingEd

    February 1, 2018 at 9:37 am

    When Beckham was acquired by the Orioles last year his production turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

    It reminded me a bit of David Newhan’s arrival back in 2004 and, although Newhan’s initial sample size was double that of Beckham, their first-year stats are fairly comparable.

    I also think their second seasons in an Oriole uniform will follow a similar trajectory, especially if the O’s sign an every-day third baseman and Beckham’s ABs are cut in half.

    I think Beckham will ultimately fall into a super-utility role with the Orioles a la Ryan Flaherty and Jeff Reboulet. He’ll be solid defensively, nothing special with the bat, but a great tool to have for the occasional start and coming off the bench in the late innings.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:52 am

      The Orioles sure hope he is more than that. They need him to be a contributor.

  9. GSISDANNO

    February 1, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Tim Beckham is a complete unknown to me. I do not think he is a major league shortstop. I want to believe he is a guy who will help us for years but the jury is still out. I am hoping that having a full spring training with the Orioles will help him. I am not a fan of moving Machado to shortstop. He doesn’t want to be a long-term member of the Orioles so this is just a temporary move. If he has another bad year, he may be begging the Orioles to take him back. His 2017 season was a huge drop off for him. If you take away his numbers in August, he was even worse.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Gs: I’ll bet ya a fake keg Manny isn’t begging for anyone to take him at the end of 2018.

    • Birdman

      February 1, 2018 at 10:44 am

      Yes, Machado’s batting average did drop off some in 2017, but to describe 33 home runs and 95 RBI as a “bad year” is pretty far-fetched

  10. Orial

    February 1, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Very interesting topic Dan. Beckham came over as a seeming malcontent then instantly turned into one of the nicest guys. Change of scenery at it’s best. That being said he definitely has his flaws. Would have preferred him staying at SS(though he could be a hatchet there). Afraid the ball will come on him too fast at 3rd and that inconsistent arm–ouch. Dickerson could be ideal for his progress. I think his eyes pop out at every pitch(over anxious). He does have an upside and hope he finds it. Jury’s not out.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      I think he has the tools for third base. He seems have real good reactions and, again, a cannon arm. But can he put it all together at a fairly unfamiliar position? Guess we will see.

  11. Dblack2508

    February 1, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I am cautiously optimistic with Tim Beckham at third base or even shortstop. My concerns are the obvious ones, low obp and his defense. I do like him under the guidance of Bobby Dickerson. I believe he is much more than a utility player, having said that he needs to find a position and stay there.
    As for Manny Machado, I look at his overall numbers and I don’t see a 300 million dollar player. I have several other players ahead of him in the MVP type players deserving of those paydays. He has never hit over .300, base running is suspect, obp is lower than it should be. He is a fantastic player, but not one in Trout, Harper, Alluve, Corlos Correa league.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      Remember. Machado is still 25. He’s younger than Aaron Judge and Trey Mancini. He is entering his prime now.

  12. plucknstrum

    February 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    I think Melvin Mora 2.0 is a fair comparison. I’d take that!

  13. bickel57

    February 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    First he is a team player. I think he will finally wind up at second base. That is they don’t keep Schoop. As of right now he is probably the best option to be the lead off hitter. If Hays or Mullens can prove they can hit they will be the lead off hitter and Beckham either will be 2nd or goes to the bottom of the order

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      I agree. Beckham at leadoff at least buys time.

  14. willmiranda

    February 1, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    So far as an Oriole, Beckham has been a shot of adrenalin that wore off.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      But what an initial shot. We don’t sell anything that strong in this joint.

  15. phildell

    February 1, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    Beckham is a guy with a lot of talent entering the prime of his career with a lot to prove. As such, I look for him to have a solid year. I think under Bobby Dickerson’s tutelage he’ll learn to minimize his mistakes at 3rd although I believe he’ll be back at SS at some point once Machado is traded. Beckham is capable of being an effective lead off hitter IF he uses the entire field as he did in August. He could be a doubles and triples machine. I’d just like to see him play within his capabilities. Make the plays he’s supposed to make. Put the ball in play and use his speed to put pressure on the opposing defense.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 1:30 pm

      Yep. You wonder if that’s not how he is wired or if he’s just had to prove himself so much that he can’t just relax and play the game to fit his abilities. Like I’ve said before, will be fascinating to watch him in 2018.

  16. Disco Stupid

    February 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    If Beckham’s performance is somewhere close to the middle ground between his incredible August and his woeful September, and assuming he is not a plus defender, I am not sure the bat will play up enough at third base.
    However, when and if Manny is traded, an average bat is an asset at SS.
    Here is to hoping Beckham exceeds all expectations.
    Also, my first post here. Thanks Dan for providing some quality O’s content in a slow offseason. And I always love the minor league podcasts!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Welcome aboard, Disco. I think you will find it a solid place to post. We stress an exchange of ideas in a respectful manner. It’s been great.

  17. Beeb

    February 1, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Good topic. The real question is whether John Russell can get him fielding-competent. . Because Russell will be the manager next year with Buck as GM, will they put up with his sporadic throws?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2018 at 10:36 pm

      I don’t see Showalter as the GM next year. Not saying it’s an impossibility. But I think it’s doubtful.

      • thebookdoc

        February 3, 2018 at 5:37 am

        Yeah…Agree Dan. Buck is not a GM. Buck wants to come back, and my guess is that would be as manager. I sort-a see Brady Anderson sliding in as GM, which I really don’t think would be a huge surprise. I’d like to see more former Os vested into the managerial team.

  18. Ben1

    February 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I have NO high expectations of Beckham this year. But then again I feel the same of the entire team. I do not understand Machado back at SS nor the direction of the team under Duquette. I will watch because I love the game and will get to see opposing hitters look terrific in OPACY.

  19. DPG0124

    February 2, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    I think Beckham’s ceiling is a utility infielder with a little bit of pop and a little bit of speed. I just don’t think he’s good enough at any one thing for a good team to justify him being an everyday starter. Hoping he proves me wrong, but I would much rather the Orioles sign a 3B (Todd Frazier? One can dream) and have Beckham be a utility player until Manny inevitably gets traded and then he can play SS again.

  20. JerseyOsFan

    February 2, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    As it stands, I just hope the O’s management tells Beckham that we are not looking at him as a former #1 overall. Just look to become the best leadoff hitter he can be… get on second as much as possible when it’s his turn and let the rest of the lineup score him in. No need to be more than that. Hit for average like in August. That and play some good defense. Make all the plays.

    • thebookdoc

      February 3, 2018 at 5:49 am

      No one makes all the plays. He likely won’t be batting .400 on the season either. I think everyone but me will be surprised by how he handles the move to third. His athleticism, quickness and need to react without doing too much thinking (where he botched balls were more of the routine plays). I want to see him come in on balls and if he can manage the bare-handed plays. Fewer Ks and he’ll be more dangerous at the plate. That’s really a team-wide issue.

      Management team in 2018… Buck…or Ripken; Eddie Murray hitting coach; Mike Mussina pitching coach; Brady Anderson GM. Grab up a former O as the bench coach. Asking too much I know.

  21. garyintheloo

    February 7, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Have to give this some thought though it is good to know Beckham wants to play and is willing to move off shortstop for one year of Manny. First of all there is room for improvement on his defense particularly throwing. So does this happen at age 28 after 10 years in the pros? Doubtful. Does his speed make him a true table setter and up setter for opposing defenses? Haven’t seen that yet. Doubtful. How about his bat? If he gets 400+ ABs I see 15-20 homers, .275 average, 54 RBI, 85 runs, 12 steals (should be more). I don’t think he is the long-term answer at short or third.

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