The sentiment amongst most fans is that the Chicago White Sox likes to play it cheap. They have multiple needs to fill once the lockout ends and chances are Jerry Reinsdorf is not going to spend big money on a second baseman, pitching reinforcements, and a right fielder.
There is a good possibility one of these solutions will have to come from within the organization. One option in right field is Adam Engel. Engel has made great strides as a player and would be a viable solution if he could stay healthy. Unfortunately, health is a concern for Engel.
During spring training, he suffered a strained right hamstring that forced him to miss Opening Day. He then had a setback during rehab which caused him to miss even more time. Engel didn’t play his first game until June 6th.
His return didn’t last long. On June 22nd he was placed back on the injured list with another hamstring strain. After returning to the lineup in July, he exited an August 12th game against the New York Yankees with groin tightness.
Four days later, he was officially placed on the IL with left shoulder inflammation. He didn’t return until September 22nd. Even when he did return he dealt with leg discomfort that resulted in sporadic appearances in the lineup.
Adam Engel has been a very good player for the Chicago White Sox so far.
Engel was an effective player in the 39 games he was able to play. He batted .252 with 7 home runs, 18 RBIs, a .832 OPS, and 7 stolen bases. The problem was you couldn’t count on him to be in the lineup every day because you never knew when another issue would pop up.
Assuming he is healthy, what would the 2022 White Sox look like if Adam Engel is the everyday right fielder? Immediately the White Sox outfield would be better defensively.
With Eloy Jimenez slated to play left field, the White Sox are going to need all the help, they can get in the outfield. Having a Gold Glove winner named Luis Robert in center field and Adam Engel in right field makes it tough for opponents to hit into any gaps because of their range and speed.
His range also allows Robert to shift over towards left field more to help cover for Jimenez. In 2017, Engel entered the season as the best defensive outfielder in the organization. He had an incredible stretch of home run robberies from the 6th to the 12th where he robbed home runs on back-to-back days then snagged a third five days later.
He has made great strides offensively as well. After struggling at the plate to start his career, he hit .251 in the second half of 2019. In 2020, he batted .348 at home and .291 vs right-handed pitchers.
In the postseason, he made his presence felt as well becoming the first White Sox player to homer in their first postseason at-bat. He also became the first White Sox player with an extra-base hit in their first two postseason plate appearances.
Another element he can provide the White Sox when healthy is speed. He stole 16 bases in 2018 which ranked second on the team. He stole 13 in Triple-A Charlottle the following season and swiped another three while with the White Sox.
Despite all the positive attributes, Engel is better served as a role player. It doesn’t look like his body can hold up over a 162 game season which means right field is still something the White Sox should address this offseason.
However, Engel can still be a valuable asset in the occasional spot start along with being an effective defensive replacement or pinch hitter off the bench.