Tim Bechkam is a story I’d like to believe in. I have a soft spot for multiple-position guys and post-hype stories, and he’s been productive in the opening month (.278, six homers; two of them Thursday). But the story runs out of juice with a look under the hood.
Pedigree shouldn’t be a problem with Beckham. He was the first pick in the 2008 draft, selected out of high school. But the learning curve steepened in the minors, and the prospect hounds quickly lost interest.
Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus stopped ranking Beckham in their Top 100s seven years ago Beckham’s nine seasons in the minors (six at Triple-A) didn’t materialize into much: .267/.332/.380. Occasionally he’d swipe a base (84 in all), but he only hit 35 home runs. This guy rode more minor-league buses than Crash Davis.
Curiously, Beckham has shown reasonable pop in his MLB trials — 20 home runs over 505 cumulative at-bats. But it’s come tied to a .246 average and .293 OBP, and he’s only stolen six bases during his time in Tampa.
Beckham’s been pull-happy this year, and he’s ripping plenty of line drives (27 percent). The ball makes a ringing sound off his bat, concede him that. But he’s striking out in one-third of his at-bats, and the contact and walk-rate numbers are awful. This looks like a story that could vaporize at any second. The Rays usually slot Beckham in the bottom third of the order.
Some of you might feel there’s enough plausible upside for a short-term rental. A critical fantasy skill is the ability to see past the opinions you held yesterday. He’s not on any of my rosters, but obviously you have to make your own decisions. Maybe you’ll win this one. Beckham believers, speak up in the comments.
• Marwin Gonzalez Day was Thursday, so we won’t rehash much. He kept rolling in Thursday’s loss to Texas: two hits (including a homer), a walk, a sacrifice fly (robbed by Carlos Gomez). The Astros are going to ride out the streak, and so am I. Gonzalez might be able to hit .270 or so, with 20 homers, double-digit steals. He qualifies at five positions.
• While scouting Gonzalez, I ran into an inning of batting practice thrown by Luke Gregerson. He allowed a Joey Gallo homer, a couple of ringing doubles. One of the outs was a fly ball to the warning track.
Something has to be wrong with Gregerson; he’s been terrible all season (8.49 ERA, four homers). The Astros have a deep bullpen anyway; they don’t need to risk Gregerson in leverage situations. Gregerson’s ownership tag is low to begin with, but I’d like to see it at zero.
• Jarrod Dyson is a one-trick pony, but it’s a pretty good trick. He’s slashing a paltry .226/.302/.269, with a piddly four extra-base hits. The Mariners slot him ninth most of the time. Alas, when Dyson does find first base, he’s usually motoring towards second. He’s stolen nine bags (in 11 attempts), most in the American League.
Dyson is unowned in three-quarters of Yahoo leagues, reasonable. We’re talking about someone with seven career homers in 1,458 at-bats. Nonetheless, he’s probably a better player than what we’ve seen in 2017 — Dyson’s career average is .258, his career OBP .323. I can’t push him for universal ownership, but the current number looks an eyelash low. He’ll probably end the year with 75-80 runs and 30-40 stolen bases, playable in some deeper formats.
Sticking with Seattle, Ben Gamel has stepped up nicely in the wake of the Mitch Haniger injury. Gamel is on a 10-for-30 binge with six walks. He’s hit four doubles and a homer, and usually slots No. 2 in the lineup. Gamel’s there for the taking, owned in just one percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Honestly, I don’t know what to do with Michael Taylor. The power-speed combo has intrigued me in past seasons, but he’s also tied to a .231/.284/.363 career slash. The Nats wouldn’t be playing him at all, but the Adam Eaton injury forced a move.
Taylor is off to a .275 start in 2017, with the occasional walk (four) and too many strikeouts (14). He still runs like a deer; 32-for-40 on steals for his career, 2-for-2 this year. Any spot in the dynamic Washington lineup is valuable, though Taylor might slot seventh or eighth all year. If you’re desperate for an outfielder — or see reason to buy into a growth season — you can snag the 26-year-old in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• Maybe the Aaron Altherr story is an easier sell for you. Altherr has a 10-percent walk rate for his career, which explains why he’s taken hold of Philly’s No. 2 lineup slot. He’s trimmed his strikeouts, and he’s giving us the occasional homer (three) and steal (three). He reached base 11 times in the recent series at Wrigley Field.
Altherr’s posted a juicy line-drive rate in the last two years, justifying the current .333 average. Even when Howie Kendrick returns to action, I can’t see Altherr leaving the lineup. The Philly flash (does he remind you a little of Jayson Werth?) is owned in just 13 percent of Yahoo leagues.