Healthier options winning out for White Sox

Entering the White Sox’s three-game series against Detroit last week, Yoán Moncada had a line of .132/.177/.209.

After a five-hit game in a 13-0 victory that sealed a sweep of the Tigers, Moncada’s line surged to .181/.232/.295.

A day later, he tweaked his hamstring running to first, and was absent for the remaining two games against the Astros.

Take that five-hit game away from him, and Moncada for the season would be hitting .140/.196/.220. You can’t take that five-hit game away from him, but I began to wish somebody had the power to do so as the White Sox agonized over their decision over whether to put him on the injured list on Monday. Even a couple hours before the game, Rick Hahn could only discuss Tim Anderson’s return to the lineup in unofficial terms because they still couldn’t commit to the corresponding move.

Before that outburst against Detroit, Moncada owned just about all of the worst rate stats in the league, with Leury García providing close company. García’s dealing with his own issue with his side as he’s hitting .194/.205/.263 through a whopping 167 plate appearance. There’s still a lot of season left, but if it were to end today, García would have the second-worst OBP in franchise history for any non-pitcher with 150 plate appearances. He knows two of the other guys in the top four.

PlayerYearPAOBP
Leury García2014155.192
Leury García2022167.205
Scotty Alcock1914169.213
Kenny Williams1988243.221

You’d think with performances so poor and injuries elsewhere, the White Sox would be looking for any semi-legitimate reason to get these guys off the roster for a couple of weeks. But just like Yasmani Grandal and his back spasms, Hahn only indulged the avenue after every other option was exhausted.

In their places, you’re seeing surprising performances:

  • Danny Mendick: Hitting .272/.323/.435 this season.
  • Jake Burger: Hitting .259/.313/.469 this season.
  • Josh Harrison: Hitting .314/.359/.486 over 39 PA in June.
  • Seby Zavala: 5-for-16 with a homer and a double over 17 PA.

There are concerns about regression for all of the above players, and Burger looks like he’s trying to fend it off as of late. Then again, Harrison could be a case of regression working positively in his favor, but even if his improvement is fleeting, it’s another point in favor of playing guys whose bodies aren’t actively betraying them.

Adam Haseley might be the heat check to this concept, as he struck out three times in his return to the majors on Sunday. Beyond the simple fact that good performances help the team win games, I’d wanted to see Haseley have a similarly successful small sample after the Sox recalled him just to keep rewarding the concept of trying viable options to replace those that just aren’t working.

There’s also the idea that a productive Haseley would allow the Sox to wait until Eloy Jiménez truly gets past his leg injury, rather than treating Jiménez as a default option without having earned the benefit of the doubt as he embarks on his second rehab stint.

But Haseley may also be superfluous to the plans, what with Luis Robert, AJ Pollock and Andrew Vaughn all worthy of everyday playing time, and Adam Engel able to step in wherever. The infield’s the dicey part, and while it’s in sturdier shape with Tim Anderson off the injured list, I don’t think you’ll see as many complaints about Tony La Russa’s cautious handling of Anderson’s playing time should that pattern resume. He’s the one guy who has shown the ability to perform without being 100 percent. At just about every other position, the Sox should open by identifying which options are at their full physical capacities, and then plot the course from there.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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soxfan

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.” – George Orwell

MrStealYoBase

I fear we all have underestimated the likelihood that Leury Garcia transitions into a cushy front office gig for the next three decades.

andyfaust

As soon as Yoan looked like he could start hitting again, the hamstring sits him down. I was optimistically feeling the same thing about Grandal having some positive regression since he appeared to be having much better at bats in the week leading up to his trip to the IL. If these two can be near completely healthy, this lineup gets MUCH better. I think 2022 has been so disastrous for them because they have mostly been playing hurt.

knoxfire30

Its hard to imagine not wanting Eloy, Moncada, Grandal replacing Vaughn/Pollack, Burger, or McGuire/Seb but here we are….

Waiting for regression seems a lot more fun then watching suppose stars battle below the mendoza line.

chipporter

Yesterday we see Engle start in RF instead of Haseley when Berrios had serious L/R splits favoring L batters. I like Engle, but his bat has never been productive enough to cement a spot and as backup OF’s go, the upside at the plate plus lefty bat of Haseley would seem to make an easy argument for a roster spot for Haseley.

I would love to hear opinions of those with more trade acumen than I about the value of a defensive first, base stealer like Engle and what he may bring. After all, does he really have a future in a WS OF?

HallofFrank

Are you talking about Adam Engel? If so, you have it exactly upside down. It’s Haseley who’s never hit well enough for a spot and Engel who has. 121 and 127 wRC+ in ’20 and ’21. And Engel has been an elite defender, too. Haseley hits left-handed—that’s about the only thing he has going for him. Offense, defense, and baserunning all go to Engel. He’s the better option for 4th OF and it’s not close.

Last edited 5 days ago by HallofFrank
chipporter

Your claim is that Engle has hit well enough to warrant a starting OF job? Because that’s what I referred to.

Haseley has been on a tear at AAA, while Engle has been on tear, when and for how long?

Haseley’s wRC+ at AAA is 118 this year, and in ’20 and ’21 Engle had a total of 211 AB’s and 8 SB’s so why does the offense go to Engle?

So, with a 5 year age difference, higher offensive upside, lefty bat, it seems IMHO, that Engle is about as useful to this team as a closer, so let’s give a kid with upside a chance in favor of an unneeded reserve OF’r that’s maxed his potential and see what value we can get in return.

dongutteridge

I’m a fan of Haseley and giving him more MLB at bats, as well. However, he’s had no MLB success yet in several tries.

Adam engel has played well in the bigs for several years now. I’m not seeing the comparison there.

I agree with the premise of the article that I would rather use Haseley more and longer while trying to hold off on bringing Eloy back up until he really has it together.

HallofFrank

Engel* is a better option than Haseley for the OF—that’s my claim.

The fact that you’re referring exclusively to Haseley’s AAA stats should tell you all you need to know. I’d love to compile of list of White Sox players who mashed at AAA but sucked in Chicago, but I don’t have that kind of time.

Why do you think Haseley has a higher offensive upside? Engel had a 127 wRC+ last year. Haseley’s career-best wRC+ is 87—and 118 (this year) in AAA! And that’s in Charlotte’s bandbox. Engel’s been a demonstrably better hitter and he’s clearly faster, too.

chipporter

He has a higher potential upside. Engle max is known. Your 127 wRC+ claim is over a whopping 140 PA’s.

There are also a number of players that hit better in MLB than AAA, simply because they see more balls around the plate at MLB.

Again, you want a better reserve OF’r this season, for what reason? To carry us through the playoffs?

So, since you want to look down your nose at my conclusions. Engle’s best career babip is .348 in 2020 with 93 PA’s. Haseley was .344 in 2019 with 242 PA’s.

The whole point, is Engle is an unneeded luxury on a team going nowhere.

HallofFrank

Combined with ‘20, Engel has a higher than a 123 wRC+ in a “whopping” 233 PAs.

Meanwhile, Haseley has a 118 wRC+ in 215 PAs and you say he’s “been on a tear.” Got it.

Yes, some (although very, very few) players hit better in MLB than AAA. But Haseley isn’t one of them. He’s been almost exclusively trash offensively in MLB.

I have no idea what either of their BABIPs have to do with this or what point you are trying to make.

I’m not sure why you think having a good 4th OF is an “unneeded luxury” on one of the most injury-prone OF in baseball.

Quite simply: Engel makes this team better than Haseley does. I’m not even sure how that’s debatable, frankly.

Joliet Orange Sox

It’s Adam Engel (like tv comic actress Georgia Engel) not Engle. He’s been in the Sox organization since 2013 and appearing with the big club since 2017. That’s plenty of time to learn the name of a player you don’t like much.

chipporter

Really? Spelling? From someone who usually has a decent thought, that’s petty.

Last edited 5 days ago by chipporter
LamarHoyt_oncrack

Wait until Vaughn gets unnecessary off days in favor of Haseley just because Haseley is a lefty. Nobody is going to complain that Haseley did not get enough at bats by the time his stint is done. Watch.

a-t

They’re both probably 4th OFs with arguments for some upside yet untapped. For Engel it’s how he played in SSS in ‘20 and ‘21, which he’s now regressing from, and for Haseley it’s his prospect pedigree, Philly’s apparent habit of breaking prospects, and his recent AAA performance. Engel’s a better defender, Haseley a lefty hitter… given how frequently this team gets hurt, particularly the starting outfield trio of Eloy/Robert/Pollock, there’s no reason right now to trade either of these guys. They’re respectable depth, and Engel has 1 minor league option remaining while Haseley has 2. I would be surprised if the latter didn’t get an extended look at some point this year. I think he would have been called up sooner had the bullpen crisis not forced roster moves to be centered around that

Last edited 5 days ago by a-t
HallofFrank

I agree that they’re both respectable depth worth having around. I don’t think Haseley’s prospect status is worth considering. It makes him worth keeping around to see if something clicks. But it shouldn’t be a factor in deciding who to keep in Chicago, for example, when Eloy returns.

I also agree that Engel’s 20-21 numbers are probably inflated. But I also think the bat has made real gains during his time in Chicago, and the power plays. He’s a legit 4th OF on a contending team, I think, and a guy who can cover all three OF spots for a few weeks at a time ably. I don’t think the same could be said for Haseley.

upnorthsox

The trick as you elude to is what happens when Eloy returns. I do not think that Haseley still has a spot on the roster unless he can get on absolute fire. The other question is who plays where. Is it Vaughn back out in RF and Eloy at DH or Eloy in LF and Pollock over in RF, or some kind of 4 way rotation. For sanities sake I hope it’s not the latter.

soxygen

For what it’s worth, MLBTR reports that the Dodgers are looking for a right handed platoon partner for old friend Eddy Alvarez in RF (while Mookie is on the IL). I’m fairly confident there is a market for Engel, but I haven’t given much thought yet to the potential return.

metasox

Dodgers continuing their collection added old Sox in Trayce Thompson

GrinnellSteve

Time to sign the Tank.

metasox

Is anything going on with Engel healthwise? His at bats have looked surprisingly bad, especially in June.

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