Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AL ROY: Why not Beckham?

A post on Tuesday springboarded from the first game of the Twins-Tigers doubleheader to discussing Rick Porcello, Elvis Andrus and the American League rookie of the Year balloting.

Absent from the discussion was Gordon Beckham of the White Sox (right).

Why not Beckham? He is a legitimate candidate, with 42 extra base hits and an increasingly prominent role in the Chicago lineup. He appears to be the lineup foundation for the next five years or so of the White Sox — he and Alexei Ramirez.

Among AL rookies, he is first in RBIs and doubles; second in home runs and runs scored; third in walks and hits. Among those with at least 300 at-bats, he's first in slugging percentage, second in OBP, third in batting average, second in OPS. (Only Andrus among AL rookies qualifies for the batting title.)

So why not Beckham?

1) Andrus is not the hitter Beckham is, but he's a premium defender at a premium position. Beckham might be capable of playing shortstop in the majors, but the Sox aren't about to ask him to.

2) Andrus just turned 21; Beckham just turned 23. Those two years matter in estimating the future.

3) In evaluating the present, Andus got more playing time. The Rangers moved their veteran shortstop, Michael Young, in spring training to make room for Andrus. Ozzie Guillen, a few days before the Sox recalled Beckham, said: If we have to play Beckham, we're in trouble.

They did have to play Beckham, and they'll finish the season under .500. The Rangers reshaped their lineup to make room for Andrus, and it transformed them from a bad team to a contender.

Beckham's a good player. Andrus mattered more this year and has more room to grow. Which is why I boil the ROY question down to the best pitcher (Porcello) and the best position player (Andrus).

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