Chicago -- No one in Major League Baseball has struggled trying to find a consistent batting stroke more than Gordon Beckham over the past three campaigns.
The 26-year-old Georgia native has watched his batting average fall from .270 in his rookie season of 2009, to the low .230s over the past two years.
In September 2012, White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto and manager Robin Ventura worked with Beckham on a new, exaggerated stance that remind some observers of Jeff Bagwell’s extreme crouch.
At this point of the season Beckham is the only regular position player on the White Sox hitting .300 or better. On Wednesday, he hit first home run of the season in the fifth inning -- a solo shot to tie the game -- against the Baltimore Orioles’ new acquisition Scott Feldman.
Missing six weeks with a broken hamate bone in his hand has not deterred the second baseman from hitting the ball hard on a regular basis.
“I changed my stance at the end of 2012, but my entire approach is different,” Beckham said. “The results have been good, but it is not the stance as much as having a better mindset and approach.”
Beckham was hitting .325 entering Wednesday’s game. He would be among the American League top-10 batters if he had more qualifying at bats.
“The key for me is keeping my body out of the swing and allowing my hands to work,” he said. “We are in a good place right now with my mechanics.”
Beckham has good power, but for now is only interested in making hard contact.
“Whether power comes with this stance, I don’t really care,” Beckham said before Wednesday’s dinger. “I have had a season where I hit .230 and hit 16 home runs, and so far this year I have hit .300 and zero home runs.”
“I don’t know what other people would prefer, for now I don’t really care,” he said. “I would rather get on base and score runs and make some things happen for my team. I believe some of the power outage has to do with what I went through with my hand surgery.”
“The power will come back in his swing,” he said. “Much of what has happened to the swing is a product of the hand issue he had earlier in the year.
He is still trying to feel natural at the plate. He does have power, so it will take him a little time to get that back.”
Beckham is a career .245 lifetime hitter with 49 home runs in four seasons prior to 2013.