Tim Beckham now has a total of 19 plate appearances in the major leagues. That is a small sample size, especially given that Tampa Bay Rays thought he would be a superstar by now when they drafted him first overall in the 2008 MLB Draft. Yet while we acknowledge how ridiculous it is to read anything into what he has done in the big leagues so far, we can’t ignore that he has already found his way to a few notable moments.
In his first major league at-bat, Beckham singled off the Texas Rangers’ Tanner Scheppers. In his first big league start, Beckham went 1 for 2 with a sac fly and a run scored to lift the Rays over the Baltimore Orioles in a critical game. And then we have the last two games. Beckham hit a pinch-hit homer and a pinch-hit triple as he went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored to help the Rays earn a series win over the Miami Marlins.
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Charlie Montoyo told Dave Wills and Andy Freed that Beckham would be a better player in the majors than he ever was in the minors. The cynics among Rays fans would respond that it wouldn’t take much for Beckham to improve upon his disappointing minor league time. Beckham managed a .267/.332/.381 line during his minor league time and a comparable .266/.326/.381 line at Triple-A. 2011 was the only season where we can say that he tapped into his potential any more often than “once in a blue moon,” and even then, his OPS was far from spectacular at .736.
We keep hearing that Tim Beckham has more in the tank. He was supposed to have tremendous raw power and it is still inside of him somewhere. But even if it does come, what will it do, make Beckham into Sean Rodriguez? Is Beckham’s best-case scenario really anything more than a lefty-mashing utility player at this point? Then the close of the argument would be the line that no Rays fan wants to hear: the Rays selected Beckham over Buster Posey and will never live it down.
At the end of the day, the cynics will probably be right for the most part. The most likely outcome for Tim Beckham is still a useful big league reserve. However, let’s not discount his upside so quickly. Here is Beckham trying to prove us wrong. He found his way to a roster spot just a year after knee surgery and is doing his best to run with it. Especially if Allan Dykstra keeps doing nothing, Beckham could find his way to more and more playing time.
In addition, what does it matter at this point that Beckham isn’t the player that the Rays thought he would be? For a while, it looked like he would never make the major leagues, and now here he is. He has overcome the disappointment, the injuries, and the drug suspensions to earn this chance to carve out a solid career for the Rays. As the Rays release players like Josh Sale and Andrew Toles right and left, we have to acknowledge how impressive it is that Beckham made the pinnacle despite similar issues.
Tim Beckham will never overcome the specter of his past–that is something that everyone can agree upon–but let’s try not to let that keep us negative about his present. With Nick Franklin, James Loney, and John Jaso out, Beckham is helping the Rays win games, and he deserves a chance to show that he can continue that. The Tampa Bay Rays need Tim Beckham now and let’s see what he can do with this opportunity.