White Sox: The case for Adam Engel winning a Gold Glove

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 12: Adam Engel #15 of the Chicago White Sox makes a catch on Yonder Alonso #17 of the Cleveland Indians during the eighth inning on August 12, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 12: Adam Engel #15 of the Chicago White Sox makes a catch on Yonder Alonso #17 of the Cleveland Indians during the eighth inning on August 12, 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

As the rebuild is fully underway, the Chicago White Sox and their fans did not have much to celebrate in 2018.

But, with award season quickly approaching, there would certainly be some celebrating if a White Sox were to win one of them. It would put a nice ending to a frustrating season.

One of the players who could have a chance at one award is Adam Engel. The young center fielder has a few stats that actually could put him in the running for a Gold Glove.

Rawlings awards the Gold Glove each year to an AL and NL player at each position. In order to qualify for the award, Rawlings set requirements for innings played:

"“All infielders and outfielders must have played in the field for at least 698 total innings through his team’s 138th game: this equates to playing in the field for approximately 7.5 innings per game in approximately 67% of his team’s games by his team’s 138th game; this ensures that only full-time players are considered).”"

Engel played in 1118 innings in 140 games. This places him in fourth in AL for innings played behind Kevin Pillar, Aaron Hicks, and Jackie Bradley, Jr.

Though Rawlings gives the award, the winner is chosen by MLB managers and their coaching staffs. They are instructed to use SABR numbers and the qualifications established in MLB rule 10.22. This rule sets the minimum number of plate appearances for batting titles, innings pitched for pitching awards, and fielding numbers for defensive awards.

For fielding awards, the MLB rule says:

"“An infielder or outfielder must have participated at his position in at least two-thirds of the number of games scheduled for each club in his league that season”"

So, Engel is ok with the MLB rules for innings played. However, he did not qualify for batting titles as he did not have enough plate appearances. In fact, only seven center fielders would qualify for a Silver Slugger in 2018.

The big factor that gives Engel a case for a defensive award are his numbers and ability in the field. On its website, Rawlings discusses how SABR numbers are to be used when voting for the Gold Glove award. Runs saved and five other measures should be used.

Voters should look at:

"“…the defenders arm strength and accuracy, range and his sure-handedness, along with the number of “excellent” and “poor” fielding plays he makes.”"

There are other factors for infielders, pitchers, and catchers, but not for outfielders.

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When it comes to range, Engel was outstanding. Of the qualifying defensive players, no one in the AL was better – not even Mike Trout. Engel finished the season with a 2.57 range. The other numbers are not as easy to quantify. But, Sox fans were certainly entertained by Engel’s excellent plays throughout the season. In fact, Engel led the qualifying defensive center fielders with the most put-outs. Interestingly, he played in 54 fewer innings that the second place finisher, Kevin Pillar. But, Pillar had fewer chances and put-outs. The two players were only .003 points apart in fielding percentage with Pillar in the lead.

Engel’s strength is his speed. According to Baseball Savant, the only AL player who is faster than he is is Byron Buxton – who spent the majority of 2018 in the minor leagues. Statcast recorded Engel’s sprint speed at 30.1 feet per second.

Statcast also ranked him as the highest AL center fielder in “outs above average” which means he makes 5% more catches than an average player would make. This results in him making 17 more outs than an average center fielder would make. Statcast considers Brett Gardner of the Yankees an average player, as the metrics organization gave him a zero in “outs above average.”

From his speed and ability to make difficult catches, Engel should win the 2018 Gold Glove award at center field. Because other players get more media attention, Engel might be overlooked. That would be a major mistake on the part of the managers and coaches who decide.

Next. White Sox should target Mike Moustakas. dark

He deserves credit for his work in the outfield. As a member of the AL Central, he spends significant time in large outfields, like Comerica Park, Kauffman Stadium, and Progressive Field – which rank 1st, 4th, and 6th respectively for the deepest center fields in the MLB.