Trading up: Red-hot Beckham leads the Orioles past the A’s

August 13, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

AP17225135056861

Baltimore Orioles’ Tim Beckham, right, is congratulated by Adam Jones after scoring against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. Beckham scored on a double by Manny Machado. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Morris Phillips

Most impactful trade deadline acquisition? That’s a no-brainer. It’s Tim Beckham, moving from the Rays and into the leadoff spot for the Orioles. Beckham had a leadoff walk and a rally-capping two-run double in the Orioles’ seven-run, first inning that chased A’s starter Sean Manaea, who recorded just one out. The A’s found some balance after the first, but went on to lose 12-5 in the third of this four-game series.

Beckham hit .259 for the Rays in 87 games, but since the Orioles acquired him on July 31 to help replace the injured J. J. Hardy, the shortstop has hit .531 (26 for 49). On Saturday, Beckham actually got hotter than hot with three doubles, four hits total, three runs batted in and a walk.

“Timmy likes playing outside it looks like,” manager Buck Showalter said.

How did the O’s realize this type of impact? And a trade within MLB’s most competitive division between clubs with wild card aspirations and no separation between them in the standings?

First and foremost, Beckham was not a .531 hitter in Tampa, he was a high profile prospect who never realized his potential while clashing with team management over chunks of four seasons since 2014. Looking for a consistent on-base guy, the Rays acquired Adeiny Hechevarria from Miami to play short and set the table, something the strikeout-prone Beckman had shown he could not do.

That slid Beckman over to second base, where he would platoon with Brad Miller, but the right-handed hitter’s numbers–low on walks, high on strikeouts–didn’t justify his inclusion in such an arrangement once Miller became healthy enough to resume playing.

So a deadline deal suited Tampa but the market was soft for a guy with underwhelming numbers and a questionable reputation. So while almost all clubs passed on Beckham, the Orioles did not, feeling that they had a plan and a structure to turn the 27-year old into a consistent force defensively at the game’s most challenging position.

The 34-year old Hardy, a true pro, but unlikely to return to Baltimore on a $14 million club option for 2018, would become Beckman’s mentor, helping him harness his physical skills while bringing a more cerebral approach to the position, something Hardy has mastered while winning multiple Gold Gloves without the athleticism Beckham possesses.

With Hardy still disabled and promised his spot by Showalter once he’s healthy, Beckham has been a willing student, learning to calm down his movements and move more assuredly to batted balls. In 12 games, Beckham has committed three errors, so that process continues.

But at the plate, Beckham’s impact has historic dimensions. Already selected as the AL Player of the Week, Beckham has seven doubles, two triples, three home runs, and 14 runs scored in 12 games with the Orioles.

Amazingly, he has nine multi-hits games, and three of those with three hits. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Beckham is the first player since 1900 to record 13 hits and three home runs in his first five games with a club.

 

 

 

 

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