Finally, rotation's turn to take hit in value survey

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Finally, rotation's turn to take hit in value survey

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011Posted: 9:35 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
With thousands of measurements in baseball, from wins and batting average to FIP and OPS, but none of those measures take into account the actual value a player brings to a team. Isn't someone who hits 20 home runs but makes just 500,000 a better value than someone who also clocks 20 but makes 10 million? Every 10 games this season, CSNChicago will run a value survey that details just what the Chicago White Sox are getting for their money a report more essential than ever, given the team-record payroll. At game 150, this is the last in-season survey of 2011, and the results wont be pretty. Going 2-8 over the past 10 and in the process getting eliminated from playoff contention is one thing, but how the White Sox lost eight of 10 is the issue. The starting rotation has been the strongest aspect of the ballclub, but with rare exception has completely collapsed in the stretch.
What follows is a survey that you won't find anywhere else in the baseball world, a snapshot that attempts to marry actual costs of players against the value they provide the team on the field. Arguably, this player value trumps any you'd find on the back of a baseball card. Using raw WAR (Wins Above Replacement) data from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference and prorated salary tells us which side of the ledger player or management is benefiting more from each players performance. A plus figure means the player has provided more value than hes been paid, a negative one means hes provided less. White Sox Bargains Players who are providing value on top of what they are costing the team in salary. (Last survey standing in parenthesis, a negative number indicates the player was on the "busts" list and a plain - meaning the player did not appear in the last survey.)

1. Alexei Ramirez, ss, 11,820,935 (1)
2. Phil Humber, sp, 11,319,084 (2)
3. Carlos Quentin, of, 7,139,908 (3)
4. Alejandro De Aza, of, 6,969,972 (9)
5. Brent Lillibridge, of-if, 5,957,508 (4)
6. Chris Sale, rp, 5,595,350 (5)
7. Gavin Floyd, sp, 5,234,070 (7)
8. Sergio Santos, rp, 5,077,229 (6)
9. Edwin Jackson, sp, 4,044,609 (11)
10. Gordon Beckham, 2b, 3,937,210 (14)
11. Jesse Crain, rp, 2,911,190 (12)
12. Paul Konerko, 1b, 2,449,784 (8)
13. John Danks, sp, 2,429,200 (10)
14. A.J. Pierzynski, c, 2,400,045 (13)
15. Zach Stewart, p, 1,944,085 (15)
16. Brent Morel, 3b, 1,765,037 (-16)
17. Tyler Flowers, c, 748,559 (16)
18. Dayan Viciedo, of-if, 677,593 (18)
19. Dylan Axelrod, p, 529,892 (-)
20. Jeff Gray, rp, 376,631 (20)
21. Addison Reed, rp, 334,176 (-18)
22. Ramon Castro, c, 276,309 (19)
23. Hector Santiago, rp, 227,204 (22)
24. Eduardo Escobar, if, 32,425 (-14)

In a development that bodes well for the 2012 White Sox, several callups have worked their way into the black, bringing the total tally to 24 of 42 players posting a profit for the White Sox. And De Aza continues a mercurial move toward the top of the value list, jumping from ninth to fourth overall and threatening to bypass seasonlong No. 2 batter Quentin before September expires.

White Sox Busts Players who value cannot offset what they are costing the team in salary. (Last survey standing in parenthesis, a "" means the player was on the "bargains" list and a plain - meaning the player did not appear in the last survey.)

1. Adam Dunn, dh, -21,540,699 (1)
2. Alex Rios, of, -18,318,097 (2)
3. Jake Peavy, sp, -7,926,808 (3)
4. Mark Teahen, if-of, -4,856,093 (4)
5. Omar Vizquel, if, -4,261,243 (5)
6. Mark Buehrle, sp, -2,043,065 (17)
7. Juan Pierre, of, -1,944,498 (6)
8. Tony Pena, rp, -1,716,459 (7)
9. Matt Thornton, rp, -1,564,563 (12)
10. Lastings Milledge, of, -1,492,442 (9)
11. Brian Bruney, rp, -1,409,542 (8)
12. Dallas McPherson, 1b-3b, -1,044,859 (10)
13. Will Ohman, rp, -645,280 (15)
14. Jason Frasor, rp, -564,524 (11)
15. Shane Lindsay, rp, -482,789 (13)
16. Lucas Harrell, rp, -261,543 (17)
17. Donny Lucy, c, -155,868 (19)
18. Josh Kinney, rp, -66,515 (21)

Approaching 40 million in combined lost value, Dunn and Rios remain 1-2 at the top of bum values, well outpacing the other 16 poor White Sox values combined. In an alarming development given his need for a new contract, Buehrles September swoon has thrust him from a good value (17th on the team in the last survey) to the sixth-worst value on the club.

White Sox Added Value Over the past 10 games, here are the White Sox who have increased their value to the team (players who were not active with the team over the past 10 games are not included in this list).

1. Alejandro De Aza, of, 2,747,522 (1)
2. Brent Morel, 3b, 2,032,277 (-9)
3. Gordon Beckham, 2b, 1,733,013 (-10)
4. Juan Pierre, of, 1,425,709 (-6)
5. Phil Humber, sp, 967,684 (2)
6. Alexei Ramirez, ss, 583,242 (6)
7. Dylan Axelrod, p, 529,892 (-)
8. Addison Reed, rp, 504,065 (-12)
9. Gavin Floyd, sp, 453,512 (8)
10. Eduardo Escobar, if, 378,025 (-11)
11. Jason Frasor, rp, 320,631 (16)
12. Shane Lindsay, rp, 300,704 (-5)
13. Zach Stewart, p, 199,821 (4)
14. Sergio Santos, rp, 144,218 (-4)
15. Chris Sale, rp, 12,948 (11)
16. A.J. Pierzynski, c, 12,277 (-3)

De Aza has completed a near-unprecedented three straight weeks atop the increasing value list, continuing to provide profit for the Pale Hose and stake his claim on a starting outfielder job in 2012. He could be joined on the 2012 roster by Reed, whos been golden since a rough, nerve-wracked first outing earlier this month in Detroit.
White Sox Lost Value Over the past 10 games, here are the White Sox who have decreased their value to the team. (players who were not active with the team over the past 10 games are not included in this list).

1. Alex Rios, of, -2,929,765 (2)
2. Mark Buehrle, sp, -2,925,662 (7)
3. Paul Konerko, 1b, -1,881,386 (14)
4. Jake Peavy, sp, -1,734,886 (9)
5. John Danks, sp, -1,587,086 (7)
6. Adam Dunn, dh, -1,041,579 (1)
7. Carlos Quentin, of, -844,195 (-)
8. Matt Thornton, rp, -743,127 (3)
9. Tyler Flowers, c, -624,513 (14)
10. Omar Vizquel, if, -487,658 (8)
11. Will Ohman, rp, -310,018 (13)
12. Dayan Viciedo, of-if, -141,992 (10)
13. Josh Kinney, rp, -116,794 (13)
14. Jesse Crain, rp, -68,156 (12)
15. Donny Lucy, c, -27,769 (15)

Rios is making a late run at Dunn for the very worst value on the White Sox, a task made more difficult by him continuing to play (and falter) while Dunn is largely inactive. Peavy ended his season on a sour note, and will only continue to lose value while inactive, meaning hell drop another 1.5 million by seasons end.

Overall, players made a modest gain of 905,681 in value and stand at 9,438,514 in the hole for the entire season. At this point, there is no way for the Chicago offense to break even in 2011. Pitchers took a hit in this last survey, dropping 3,881,314 in value but retaining 23,341,631 in overall value on the season.

The White Sox remain in the black on the year, at 13,903,117, a drop of 3,881,313 from the 140-game mark.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.” 

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”