Baseball

Stories From The Barber Pole – Midseason Player Grades: The Outfield

Now we move on to the section of the diamond with approximately zero remaining starters from Spring Training. The turnover ratio in the White Sox outfield has reached a level usually reserved for Amazon warehouse employees and White House spokespeople. The dearth of injuries has provided quite a few opportunities for guys who would’ve just been role players to step up and help the team.

And then there’s Adam Eaton.

 

ADAM EATON

.201/.298/.642

9.1% BB Rate / 25.3% K rate

5 HR/ 28 RBI / 33 R

.288 wOBA / 82 wRC+ / 0.3 WAR

I only put Eaton here to highlight what an absolutely terrible signing he was to begin with. With Rick Hahn’s yearly attempt to beat out the market by being done with his free agent signings before Christmas, the Sox ended up overpaying for a player that’s produced half the value than a guy that was CUT BY THE FUCKING PIRATES. Getting DFA’ed in the opening weeks of July shows that Rick Hahn can at least admit when he’s made a mistake, but unfortunately he doesn’t learn from them as this is the 2nd year in a row he’s put a band-aid on what was a mortar wound in RF.

GRADE: F….uck off forever

 

ANDREW VAUGHN

.253/.320/.772

8.1% BB Rate / 25.0% K Rate

10 HR / 28 RBI / 36 R

.331 wOBA / 112 wRC+ / 0.9 WAR

I don’t like giving Tony LaRussa too much credit (because I don’t think he does much more than just sit there most of the time), but his handling of Andrew Vaughn this season deserves praise. You can see him developing at an exponential rate as the season progresses, and a good amount is helped by how Tony uses and shelters him in the lineup. Vaughn was already a masher of left handed pitching, but in the month of July his splits against righties has exploded. Just look at his slash line against RHP in June vs July:

June: .182/.191/.487  1HR  27 wRC+ (ouch)

July: .393/.419/1.205  3HR  219 wRC+ (holy shit)

On top of all these offensive corrections he’s making, the defense he’s playing in LF (a position he’d never played before) is slightly above league average. Which, if you think about everything else going on with him is absolutely insane. The kid is going to be a monster, and his new positional eligibility solves a lot of issues for the organization. Awesome.

GRADE: A

BILLY HAMILTON

.230/.253/.667

3.2% BB Rate / 32.3% K Rate

2 HR / 10 RBI / 16 R

.282 wOBA / 78 wRC+ / 0.4 WAR

After Eloy went down with his pec tear back in March, I wrote about potential replacements for him. When I mentioned Billy Hamilton, I basically said that if he was going to be an everyday OF for the White Sox they have bigger issues than that. Just looking at his body of work, what I said still holds true. That doesn’t mean that Billy hasn’t brought value to the Sox, it’s actually quite the opposite.

He’s had some seriously clutch hits, plays excellent defense in the OF, and is still a serious threat on the basepaths. His .253 OBP leaves something to be desired, but that’s been the case throughout his career so it’s not an outlier by any means. He’s also just a really good dude, and very fun to root for. Exactly what you want out of a bench player, and when Eloy comes back I’m hoping he sticks around. He’s the kind of unsung hero that can make memorable moments in the postseason.

GRADE: C+

ADAM ENGEL

.286/.340/.690

2.1% BB Rate / 14.9% K Rate

5 HR / 11 RBI / 10 R

.424 wOBA / 173 wRC+ / 0.7 WAR

Adam Engel has only played in 13 games thus far this season, so the stats as shown are somewhat misleading. Except for the dingers. 5 HR in 13 games (while probably unsustainable) is pretty impressive. What else is impressive is (Much like Andrew Vaughn) that Engel is starting to hit right handed pitching at a higher rate than ever before in his career. In those 13 games he’s played, he’s actually batting .333 against RHP vs .221 against LHP. 3 of his 5 dingers have come off righties as well. Again, a very small sample size…but an encouraging one.

GRADE: Incomplete

BRIAN GOODWIN

.267/.353/.864

11.7% BB Rate / 21.4% K Rate

4 HR / 15 RBI / 17 R

.370 wOBA / 137 wRC+ / 0.6 WAR

All the kudos to Rick Hahn for very clearly having Brian Goodwin on his radar even before every tendon in Luis Robert’s hips exploded like a rubber band ball being chainsawed in half. He really didn’t waste much time signing him to a deal after the Pirates (for some reason) moved on from him at the beginning of the year. Goodwin had a very good run in 2019 with the Angels with 17 home runs in 130 games, but was sent to the Reds in an off-season deal. He had less luck with them, as he was treated as a placeholder for Jessie Winker and Nick Senzel.

His time with the Sox has been successful by any metric that you want to use, but I’m most impressed with his patience at the plate. The 11.7% BB rate would be the highest of his career, and he credits his time in the minor leagues as giving him the impetus to overhaul his approach at the plate. It’s working, and the Sox are reaping the benefits. He’s a keeper for sure.

GRADE: A

LEURY GARCÍA

.263/.330/.699

9.3% BB Rate / 25.5% K Rate

3 HR / 39 RBI / 36 R

.308 wOBA / 96 wRC+ / 1.2 WAR

A lot has been asked of Leury Legend this season with the amount of injuries to Sox starters this year. He had a pretty rough start to the season, but once the calendar month began with “J” he’s come on strong. The power he showed last season really hasn’t appeared yet, but he’s getting on base at a good clip and plays at least league average defense at multiple places around the diamond. Once (hopefully) people start coming back healthy, Leury can be used where he fits best: as a day of rest for everyone on the diamond. You can’t go wrong with someone who is positionally flexible like him, and Hahn did a good job keeping him on the roster.

GRADE: B+

 

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