By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) The hero of the White Sox’s extra-inning win against the Giants on Tuesday night will more than likely be playing elsewhere in 2015. Gordon Beckham is finishing up his fifth full season in the major leagues and will be entering his last year of arbitration next season before free agent eligibility.
Beckham made two sensational plays at second base to help the White Sox in their 3-2 victory, then his 10th-inning single drove home the go-ahead run in the hard-fought win. But despite the grit and hard work Beckham brings to the park every day, his body of work has come up short in the White Sox’s eyes and his own expectations.
“I didn’t even give the team a chance to trade me,” a disappointed-but-always-objective Beckham said recently before the trade deadline had expired.
In the case of Beckham, an intense cerebral approach to the game he loves has most likely damaged his batting skills. His batting average has eroded to an all-time personal low of .220 heading into Wednesday afternoon’s game at San Francisco. The 2009 Sporting New rookie of the year, Beckham’s a .244 hitter for his career with poor power numbers and has been on a roller coaster ride of good and bad for five-plus seasons.
The good has mostly been on defense, where he can be compared favorably with the top second basemen in the game. Beckham is truly one of the great defenders in the game. Leadership and fellowship are also big parts of what Beckham has brought to the White Sox and what he will offer to his next club.
For the White Sox future, 23-year-old second baseman Micah Johnson is knocking at the door of the major league team. Johnson is having a break out season at Triple-A Charlotte, hitting .300 with 21 stolen bases.
“He is ready to play in the big leagues,” said an AL scout who has seen Johnson play 15 times. “One area he may need to mature at is not getting flustered by inside pitches. The rest of his game is solid. He is ready.”
That Johnson has passed all of his minor league tests and that he brings the element of speed and likely on-base percentage (.358 on base in 2014) will help the White Sox feel better about moving a first-roudn pick in Beckham, who hasn’t attained the lofty goals that he set for himself.
Beckham brashly told then-White Sox general manager Kenny Williams after Chicago chose him in the 2009 amateur draft, “Mr Wiiliams, you made the right pick.”
But for both sides, the story hasn’t gone according to plan. If Beckham can resurrect his career somewhere else, it would please many observers like myself, who have watched him struggle to become the star he has always expected to be.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.