For the Chicago White Sox, last season was one to forget. There was regression from several of the White Sox key players, but while much of the focus was on the struggles of center fielder Alex Rios and designated hitter Adam Dunn, the problems at the plate for second baseman Gordon Beckham did not go unnoticed. His problems just were not magnified to the same degree.
Gordon Beckham was fresh off a college World Series win when he was drafted by the White Sox in 2008 and the team knew they were getting a winner from the start. In the early portions of spring training, Beckham wowed fans with his discipline at the plate and defense at shortstop. Unfortunately for him, Alexei Ramirez was already entrenched at shortstop. Despite Ramirez’s fielding problems during the season prior, former manager Ozzie Guillen’s intention was to keep Ramirez at shortstop while keeping Beckham in the minor leagues.
Expectations grew for Beckham once he was called up from the White Sox Class AA affiliate, Birmingham Barons, and he delivered to an extent. Ozzie Guillen played Beckham primarily at third base once he arrived. The biggest issue for Beckham was his adjustment to not playing in his natural defensive position.
Guillen began to make mistakes with Beckham ever since the highly-touted prospect's call-up. Guillen constantly shifted Beckham in and out of the lineup, playing him at either third or second base, and up and down the lineup card. I believe that the shuffling was a major factor in diminishing Beckham’s confidence.
Is the upcoming season going to be a breakout one for Gordon Beckham?
Enter new White Sox manager, Robin Ventura. The former star third baseman has never held a managerial spot on any baseball level, yet there is a sense of calm and purpose that comes with him. His hiring helps Beckham on an introspective level.
Ventura knows how it feels to be a much-ballyhooed talent to break into the professional ranks.
As a six-time Gold Glove winner, there are tricks of the trade that Ventura can teach Beckham. There are different defensive angles that can be taught, not only to Beckham, but the other infielders as well.
Current White Sox third baseman Brent Morel will be able to lean on Ventura for advice in how to approach certain line drives and dribblers down the third baseline.
This should have a positive effect on the entire infield, where the overall defense was average at best. Ventura’s calling card is patience and angles—these will help make the White Sox a better team defensively. The White Sox success will begin here.