It may have taken three seasons, but Tim Beckham finally looked the part of a first-round draft pick once dealt to the Orioles in 2017. But, can fantasy owners believe in the breakout heading into next season?
First-round draft picks are usually loaded with talent, yet carry the weight of meeting lofty expectations. Tim Beckham was long lauded as the possible cornerstone at short for the Rays as soon as he was selected in 2008. Unfortunately, Beckham continually looked outmatched at the MLB level prior to the 2017 season, yet exploded for the Orioles once he was dealt.
Yet, after a breakout campaign, can fantasy owners now believe in his success?
Beckham was dealt at the deadline for peanuts. The Rays gave him another extended look, and all he could manage was a .259/12 HR/36 RBI/.721 OPS line.
Once in Charm City, he took off. After an ugly .160 AVG in July, Beckham looked like a man possessed in Aug. He posted a .394/6 HR/19 RBI/1.062 OPS line over 127 at-bats.
No one could have expected such a breakout from Beckham. Looking at his monthly splits, he was solid four out of six months last season. However, the lows, .160 in July and .180/.603 OPS line in Sep., damper expectations.
Digging into his batted ball data, Beckham showed improvements but also continued some of the red flags. For the good, he upped his LD rate to 22% and raised his Med contact to 45% and Hard contact to 39%
The power uptick was powered by his ability to post those same increased Hard contact rates while upping his FB rate to 32%. The move to Camden certainly helped, and offers fantasy owners the hope that the 20+ HR are here to stay.
In terms of the negative, Beckham still struck out 29% of the time while only generating a 6% BB rate. He also still posts GB rates, 49%, that are too high for him to possibly take the next step forward power wise.
Orioles hitting coach, Scott Coolbaugh, took free swinging Jonathan Schoop and made him better at attacking pitches in the zone. Therefore, the hope would be that Coolbaugh could do similar with Beckham. In the minors, he showed the ability to routinely hit over .270. However, last season was the first time he showed it at the MLB level.
With him not having the speed to make up for the high GB rate, a near 30% K rate, and a hefty .365 BABIP, fantasy owners can not bank on the AVG to be serviceable in 2018.
Whether it be at third or shortstop, Beckham will find at-bats for the Orioles. The lineup also still lacks a true leadoff option, making Beckham seemingly the best current option out of the bunch. With Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Schoop either around him or behind him, the counting stats will be there.
The ceiling that scouts projected for Beckham may never be reached. Yet, that does not mean that he can not revive his career in Baltimore. His first cameo went well and the improvements are there to believe that the power will be there at the end of the day.