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Gordon Beckham for Rookie of the Year -- too soon?

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gordon_beckham_white_sox_rays.jpg
(AP Photo)

As part of U.S. Cellular Field's Asian Heritage Night on Tuesday, there was plenty of singing, dancing and banging of drums to celebrate Asian culture.

On the field, however, White Sox rookie third baseman Gordon Beckham was giving fans plenty of reason to do some singing and drum-banging of their own -- namely the singing of Beckham's praises and banging of the drum for him to be considered for the American League Rookie of the Year award.

What -- too soon?

Sure, the season is barely past the midway point.

Sure, those of us in the Chicago media have a tendency to aggrandize players on a hot streak and completely vilify those who struggle.

Sure, he could get worn down in August -- in which case I'll hope no one remembers that I wrote this.

And yes ... with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, a man on first, his team down by a run and a chance to be the hero Beckham, who had been perfect at the plate all night, grounded out weakly to the pitcher to end the game.   

But for those 23,319 fans who watched Beckham go 3-for-4 and make a couple of solid plays in the field, there was little question of whether he should be considered.
In the Sox half of the fifth inning, he drove in the tying run and set the table for Scott Podsednik to drive in the go-ahead run. Then, in the  seventh with men on first and second, he lined his third hit of the evening into center field. It might have been an RBI with a completely healthy Carlos Quentin on the basepath. Instead, that hit loaded the bases only to see Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez strike out in succession.

In the process, the Atlanta native boosted his batting average past the .300 mark (ending the day at .304) for the first time in his career -- an accomplishment that brought out Beckham's not-so-quiet confidence in front of reporters after the game.

"I didn't know if I should expect it," said Beckham of reaching .300. "But I expect it of myself. Personally, that's great. But when it comes in a loss, it doesn't feel so good."

After a rocky 2-for-28 start to his career, Beckham has battled back. He's 31-for-77 (.402) in his last 21 games, and he's batting .560 in his last seven games. Perhaps most importantly, he's provided a much-needed spark to the bottom of the White Sox batting order.   

Of course, you could also make a strong argument as to why the team's other rookie infielder, Chris Getz, should be among those mentioned for the award. He entered Tuesday's game leading all rookies in total hits, doubles, total bases, multi-hit games and ranked second in RBI while hitting .265.

And there are a few rookies around the league who are also making a name for themselves.

Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, batting .277 with 3 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 81 games, is at the top of many lists.

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus has appeared in 79 games, batting .250 with 3 home runs and 16 RBI. Not bad for a guy who can't legally drink alcohol.

The Orioles have a few candidates in starting pitchers Koji Uehara and Brad Bergesen. But none has performed as well as outfielder Nolan Reimold recently. He's batting .265 with 9 home runs. He was named the Rookie of the Month in June after hitting .320 with 4 homers.

It's likely Beckham will cool off at some point (perhaps after he wins the Rookie of the Month award for July). To what degree he cools off will likely determine whether he wins the award at the end of the season. Whether he can continue to improve in the field at third base will also factor into the decision.

Regardless, Sox fans have reason to rejoice -- while they may have high hopes at the hot corner, no one's expectations are higher than the ones he's set for himself.

Interesting side note: If Beckham does win the award, it'll be the second time the Cubs and White Sox have had back-to-back players do so. Gary Peters won it in 1963, a year after second baseman Ken Hubbs on the North Side.

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8 Comments

Even before the season there was no clear cut advance pick for Rookie of the Year. It's not like last year when Longoria was practically named it by this time and it was a given.

If Beckham remains consistent, especially if the Sox repeat as Division champs, he does have a legit shot.

every hear of a guy called ricky romero? rookie who's 7-4 with a 3.25 era for the jays? i think he's in the lead right now.

Kevin Replies: I knew I was leaving someone out -- thanks!

Actually Peters and teammate Pete Ward were named co-rookie of the year by The Sporting News in 1963 one of the few times there has been a tie for the honor among any of the major organizations that give out such things.

Peters won the award by himself courtesy of the baseball writers association.

Mark Liptak

Beckham and Getz are so good, they may make A. Ramirez expendable.

Why would a good 3B and a good 2B make a good SS expendable? You are aware you need to field all of those positions for all 162 games.

cp you realize that Beckham is a natural SS?

A natural shortstop (kind of silly to me)? He's only twenty-three and is clearly a professional caliber athlete. If he puts in the practice, he will be a natural third baseman as well. He's got one hell of an arm -- attested to by his decent amateur football career at the quarterback position. You put a guy like that at third or in the outfield, especially when you already have good players at second and short. I would rather have him at third, Alexei at short, and Chris at second than Fields at third, Beckham at short and Ramirez at second with Getz on the bench (which is what would most likely happen if they played Gordon at shortstop). We've got a great infield now, and we just need to hope that these guys stay sharp and that Ramirez has gotten over what I hope will be his last injury for a very long time.

I'm thinking since Josh was sent back down to the minors he's most likely going to be trade bait for the off-season. I'm sure they will keep Getz as a starter for the sole fact he's not too bad of a hitter and he can get on base and has speed. With time in the Majors...Getz will be able to do what he did when he was in the minors and be a major contribution to this team...I think our only fault now is the fact that we only have 3 consistent starter until Peavy comes back from his injury...With the way Clayton Richard was pitching I would have tried to keep him and give them Torres maybe...and put Contreras in the bullpen and used a 4 man starting rotation until Peavy came back and kept Clayton as the 5th starter...but I don't run the team so that didn't happen, lol. I believe Clayton Richard has a bright future in San Diego...He pitched a good game for his first start with the padres. By far though what i'm trying to say is that Beckham will most likely stay at third with Ramirez at short and Gets at 2nd...and Beckham will win rookie of the year this year...if he doesn't then something has gone terribly wrong in the world.

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This page contains a single entry by Kevin Allen published on July 21, 2009 10:00 PM.

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