It’s always important to have perspective. If you go through life making mountains out of molehills and forgetting to celebrate the small successes for what they are, you’ll be little more than a simpering heap of rage slowly marching towards your inescapable end. Perspective. It’s good for you.
Adam Engel was drafted in the 19th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. That’s not exactly a prestigious place to be taken. No other player from his draft round has made the majors. The last 19th rounder to make much of an impact in the majors was the last Adam who played center for the White Sox (Arizona drafted Adam Eaton 571st overall back in 2010). So while there is definitely the chance of finding All-Star quality talent almost 600 picks into the draft, it’s not exactly something you should bank on. When a player you take that late manages to provide any sort of utility for the parent club, you should think of it as a win, however minor of one it truly may be. Perspective.
Adam Engel was worth 0.9 WARP this year. That’s obviously not anything amazing nor what you really want out of your starting center fielder, but it’s certainly better than nothing (or his 2017 season in which he was worth -0.1 WARP). He managed to raise his OPS almost .100 points, going from an anemic .517 to a slightly more robust .614. His SLG passed the .300 threshold (.336) and his OBP inched ever closer to the almost palatable .300s as well (.279). And despite the occasional brainfart route, most metrics (and the majority of the time eye test) place him as an above average fielder. Progress! Perspective!
But there are, of course, negatives. All that progress still only amounts to an OPS+ of 70. It’s a big step forward from his previous year, but when your old OPS+ was 40 it’s hard to not make progress and keep getting playing time. If not for a hot August in which Engel hit .276/.284/.448 with three home runs, his second half slash line looks more like .239/.273/.310. Yikes. And while Adam stole twice as many bases this season (16), his success rate dropped precipitously from 88.9% to 66.7%. For a Man of Steal, that’s pretty bad.
The good news for Engel is that unless the White Sox pick up a new center fielder during the offseason, the three prospects gunning for his job are all still at least a year and a half away at the soonest from making their way to Chicago. Luis Basabe will likely start 2019 in Birmingham, though finding time for Luis Robert and Luis Gonzalez may force him up to Charlotte before long. And even if Engel winds up losing his starting job, gritty glove-first center fielders tend to stick around for quite some time.
Lead Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports