Chicago White Sox centerfielder Adam Engel was among the Gold Glove finalists named last Thursday. Winners are announced this Sunday, giving the baseball world plenty of time to discuss, debate, and decide who was best in 2018. While we don’t yet know who will win at each position, Engel is more than deserving of his first Gold Glove.
The numbers: OOZ
Adam Engel registered 98 Plays Made Out of Zone (OOZ) in 2018. That number is good enough to place him third amongst centerfielders in Major League Baseball and second in the American League. The only CF in front of him are Ender Inciarte and Kevin Pillar.
So, what does the OOZ metric track? Each position has its own “zone,” determined by the area in which it’s expected that defenders convert half of their opportunities into outs. Any outs converted outside of that area is a conversion outside of the player’s “zone.” Essentially, it measures the player’s range and ability to not only get to those extra chances, but make outs.
The players with more OOZ than Engel? They can track and grab flyballs with the best of them, and Adam Engel wasn’t far behind. He also did this in fewer innings. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, the other two finalists, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Mike Trout, finished with 81 and 78 respectively.
The numbers: OAA
Adam Engel finished 2018 fourth in MLB and sat atop the AL leaderboard in Outs Above Average with 17. This metric measures the difficulty of each and every play made and not made, based on a number of factors. It takes into account the trajectory of the ball, how hard it was hit, which direction the fielder had to move, distance covered, etc. At the end of all this is a catch probability, and defenders are given pluses and minuses depending on the probability and whether or not they make the play. This is a cumulative score. Mike Petriello explains it better here.
This metric shows just how valuable a player is throughout the course of the season and essentially how many easy, moderate, difficult, and nearly impossible plays they made. Again, Adam Engel covers a ton of ground – 35th & Shields to Lake Michigan to be exact. His fellow finalists, JBJ and Trout finished with 11 and 8 respectively.
Let’s face it, metrics and advanced stats may not be the most influential piece of the decision-making process here. Highlights absolutely play a factor. Outfield assists, perfect relay throws, diving catches, and home run robberies factor into the award. Of course, if a player is statistically deserving, it makes sense if they’ve got a few Web Gems as a reminder of their brilliance.
Adam Engel has no shortage of highlight reel plays. However, the moment, or moments, that should stand out is the week in August when he robbed (cue LeBron James voice) not one, not two, but THREE home runs in the span of a week! He put in a year’s worth of work – maybe more – in a week. All thanks to the baseball Gods, it was one of the few weeks where I was able to consistently watch the Sox. And it paid off.
Simply the best
Adam Engel was the best defensive centerfielder in the American League in 2018. Neither JBJ nor Mike Trout kept up statistically. Did JBJ rob three home runs in a week? Nope. Trout? Nope. The award belongs to Adam Engel. End of debate.
Okay, fine, just in case you needed one more reason, how about this: Jackie Bradley, Jr. just played a pivotal role in and won the World Series, and Mike Trout just had another MVP caliber season. Engel deserves the Gold Glove and the Southsiders deserve a bright spot in an otherwise long season.
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