Get Some Rest, Tim Beckham | The Process Report

Get Some Rest, Tim Beckham

Amidst his breakout season at the plate it has often gone overlooked just how dinged up Tim Beckham has been getting of late. A few days here, a few days there. Hammy tweak, hand contusion, ankle. These little nagging injuries are the type of stuff every guy is playing through, but often, the only way for them to get better is by avoiding activity for a spell. Eat right, drink right, sleep right, get right. The All Star Break presents a wonderful opportunity to get guys a good stretch of not having to push it since four of the minimum ten days don’t have games. Tim Beckham looks like a guy that could use a rest. The Rays know this as they put him on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to July fifth.

Anecdotally, it seems as if Beckham was having little trouble elevating the ball and hitting it hard enough to land in the seats early on in the season. His torrid start sealed his grip on the everyday starting shortstop job for a legitimate contender. So far, so good. Thing is, being an everyday player is really hard. The body gets worn down, and eventually takes away enough from a player’s game to make a real impact. #TheGrind is real.

Here’s a look at Tim Beckham’s exit velocity and launch angle as 50-ball in play averages. His exit velocity is on the left axis, and I have overlaid his launch angle, which corresponds with the right axis. You can see that, indeed, Bex started the year off hitting the ball harder than he would the rest of the year. He was also right around that ten degree launch angle and was able to elevate it a bit higher. When coupled with the high exit velocities these are often well struck balls that go for hits if not extra bases. However, Beckham saw both of these rates fall, which in conjunction, means more ground balls hit less hard.

The velocity falloff mostly stabilized a bit below his season average of 88 miles per hour. Meanwhile, the angle continued to fall off for most of the season before sitting just north of a perfectly horizontal line (0 degrees). Continuing with my work on deriving park-adjusted expected wOBA on balls in play, or xwOBA*, we can combine these two factors to get a better feel for the context of what should have happened. Hitting the ball hard on it’s own is usually a good thing, but doing so into the ground takes away much of the sting. Here’s what spread looks like with Beckham’s actual results:

His homers were all on the side of being cheap, but they likely would have been extra base hits, anyway, and that’s just about the ideal trajectory. I had to look it up to confirm, but he has only had five doubles, and each of those were decently struck balls. The singles are all over the place, but you can see a band resembling the asteroid belt cutting right through the heart of this graph. Those are all line drives. Those that aren’t hit exceptionally hard going for singles were in the sweet spot of the swoosh where balls often make it over infielders, but in front of outfielders. You see a few sky high fly balls or beaten into the ground worm burners. The latter at least have led to a couple of scratch singles. This is fun to dig into, but it’s only a snapshot of the season. Let’s look at his rolling average park-adjusted actual (awOBA*) and xwOBA*:

Early on he was scorching the ball. His actual results were really quite good, but they should have been even better based on how hard and at what angle he was hitting the ball. both trended down before crossing paths, such that, his most recent play was actually better than what he should have expected. Looking at his expectations you can get the sense that he was wearing down over the course of the season. Some might see some recent success as a bounceback, but I think it’s a bit of a mirage. His expectations were still above average, but when you factor in his strikeout to walk being very poor he was starting to look less and less like an everyday player.

That is why this rest could not have come at a better time. He already has more plate appearances in the Show this year than any other season. Get the young man some rest. He has earned it, and hopefully when he gets back after the short layoff he’s able to scorch the ball like he did earlier in the season when he had fresher legs, and fewer bruises.

 



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