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.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.