Gordon Beckham was the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft after a standout college career at Georgia, made quick work of the minors before debuting for the White Sox in mid-2009 at age 22, and hit .270 with an .808 OPS as a rookie.
He looked like a potential star and at the very least a long-term building block for the White Sox, but in two-plus seasons and 289 total games since then he’s hit just .237. And it’s getting worse, as his OPS dropped from .808 to .695 to .633, and so far this season Beckham is 3-for-26 (.115) with 11 strikeouts.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto told Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that he’s working with Beckham to correct some poor mechanics:
What we are trying to do with him is slow his body down. He is really anxious right now. He is charging into balls and just mis-hitting them. The way we slow him down is keep him tall and make him believe what he has now is enough.
Levine notes that Manto was hired in part because general manager Ken Williams felt the team, and specifically Beckham, needed to hear a new voice after working with former hitting coach Greg Walker for so long. Low expectations for the White Sox in general and the lack of a top prospect waiting in the wings at second base should give Beckham a pretty long leash, but Manto definitely has a tough case on his hands.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: