CTL: Will Gordon Beckham take the next step?
Paul Konerko is not the White Sox hitting coach, but if there's a player on the team who has an eye for hitting and coaching, it's Konerko.
And if seeing is believing, Konerko anticipates that Gordon Beckham will finally have that season White Sox fans have been waiting for since his rookie season in 2009.
"I do. You have to feel positive about it," Konerko said.
We'll get to Beckham's hitting in a moment. But first, read what Konerko said about Beckham's stellar defense, which most White Sox fans are familiar with, but the rest of the country still has no idea about.
"First of all, second base-wise, he's as good as anybody I've seen. He's as good as anyone in the league right now. What he did last year at second was amazing. I didn't see anybody better," said Konerko, who then followed it up with some sarcasm. "If he hits better, he'll win the Gold Glove, which makes a lot of sense."
Beckham's decline at the plate does make sense when you consider the path he's taken. Before becoming a full-time major leaguer with the White Sox in 1999, Konerko played five seasons in the minors. Beckham? About two months.
"With Gordon, people have to realize he didn't really play in the minor leagues. So there's a lot of things in the last couple years that he's had to learn that the rest of us got to learn on some bus in the middle of somewhere," Konerko explained. "You can't underestimate that stuff when you're trying to learn that stuff in Chicago, on a big league field, with a team that's trying to win some of those years. It's not easy."
After batting .270 during his rookie season, Beckham has slumped offensively over the last three years, hitting .252, .230 and then .234 last season.
So what makes Konerko believe that Beckham will finally break through in 2013?
"I think towards the end of the year last year he made a couple adjustments, and you could see the at-bats and the results were better," Konerko said of Beckham, who had seven home runs and 22 RBIs in the final two months. "But more than just the results, you could see the attitude start to click a little bit."
Last winter, how many of you expected comeback seasons for Alex Rios and Adam Dunn? Both men came through.
Beckham did set career-highs with 16 home runs, 123 hits and 62 runs. If you're looking for a sleeper candidate who's ready to take the next step, it's Beckham.
"He's going to be a really good big league player. With his defense right now, you could already make the argument," Konerko said. "Everybody gets so overrated with the average, but he's going to do all that and we're hoping that this year he busts out."