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Look at Ray Ray Run

Launch Engel?

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For anyone who wants to read the article, I posted it today on my site: Here is a the link. Thanks to Soxtalk for allowing the sharing of links:

https://www.ecopolibbling.com/post/launch-engel-to-the-rescue

 

2018:

inmPPTg.png

2020:

mW93FYL.png

 

So yesterday when I was watching the game, and saw Engel raking, I decided I wanted to take a deep dive into the changes Engel has obviously made. I completely disregarded 2019. Why?

Great question! I disregarded 2019 because as you can see from the picture below, Engel implemented a large leg kick before his swing. He actually started to make some of the good changes to his hands last year, but he didn't see much benefit because of the leg kick. 

7LqBjaL.png

BUT at the end of 2019, when Engel was recalled, he had kept the changes he made to his hands from 2018, but he ditched the leg kick. This led to a 778 OPS in September of last year:

i1zaVlr.png

 

What does that mean? The big change, besides the fact that Engel no longer dips his bat head parallel to the ground as he did in the 3rd still above of 2018, his hand position at contact and after is another change. While these weren't identical pitches, you'll notice Engel's bat is less parallel to the ground at contact than it was in 2018, in addition at the point of contact and after Engel's hands lift towards the sky, as opposed to a the flatter follow through in 2018. This has led to a big change in Engel's launch angle this year:

Engel's launch angle is up 6% from last year - to 17.1% - and 3% over his career average. In addition, Engel is has a career low GB rate at 30.4% (11% below his career average). Additionally, he's pulling the ball much more frequently - 54% vs 44% in career - as he has opened his stance a bit and stopped straightening his front leg on impact as much. By eliminating the leg kick and opening his stance, Engel has found a way to make more contact in general (up 3% over last year) a, but especially in the zone (up 10% from his career average to 91%) and that has led to a dramatic decline in Engel's strike out rate which is down to 21% from a career average hovering around 30.

This has led to good numbers, as Engel has maximized his skill set to generate power to the pull side. While Engel still isn't crushing the baseball (exit velocity is actually down over last year), nor is he barreling everything up (only 1 barrel this season), the changes he has made is helping him maximize his skill set. While he has had some luck, his xBA is 285, his xSLG is .463 and his wxOBA is .343 which means even if things regress to his contact profile, he's still a better than league average hitter with elite defense. 

Publishing the full post/version of this on my Blog tomorrow likely if anyone does care to read it.

Edited by Look at Ray Ray Run
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Very well-thought-out and well written.

 

However, I feel like we've seen this movie over and over and over and over ad nauseum. I feel like it's SSS, and when the year is over, he won't still be at his (currently punsustainable) wrc+ of 175. I feel like he'll be nestled back in the 70s or 80s, where he usually ends up. I also feel like this fan base falls all over themselves to keep hoping that the grindy guy finally figures it out.

 

Color me dubious, but YMMV. Carry on, then.

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10 hours ago, Look at Ray Ray Run said:

2018:

inmPPTg.png

2020:

mW93FYL.png

 

So yesterday when I was watching the game, and saw Engel raking, I decided I wanted to take a deep dive into the changes Engel has obviously made. I completely disregarded 2019. Why?

Great question! I disregarded 2019 because as you can see from the picture below, Engel implemented a large leg kick before his swing. He actually started to make some of the good changes to his hands last year, but he didn't see much benefit because of the leg kick. 

7LqBjaL.png

BUT at the end of 2019, when Engel was recalled, he had kept the changes he made to his hands from 2018, but he ditched the leg kick. This led to a 778 OPS in September of last year:

i1zaVlr.png

 

What does that mean? The big change, besides the fact that Engel no longer dips his bat head parallel to the ground as he did in the 3rd still above of 2018, his hand position at contact and after is another change. While these weren't identical pitches, you'll notice Engel's bat is less parallel to the ground at contact than it was in 2018, in addition at the point of contact and after Engel's hands lift towards the sky, as opposed to a the flatter follow through in 2018. This has led to a big change in Engel's launch angle this year:

Engel's launch angle is up 6% from last year - to 17.1% - and 3% over his career average. In addition, Engel is has a career low GB rate at 30.4% (11% below his career average). Additionally, he's pulling the ball much more frequently - 54% vs 44% in career - as he has opened his stance a bit and stopped straightening his front leg on impact as much. By eliminating the leg kick and opening his stance, Engel has found a way to make more contact in general (up 3% over last year) a, but especially in the zone (up 10% from his career average to 91%) and that has led to a dramatic decline in Engel's strike out rate which is down to 21% from a career average hovering around 30.

This has led to good numbers, as Engel has maximized his skill set to generate power to the pull side. While Engel still isn't crushing the baseball (exit velocity is actually down over last year), nor is he barreling everything up (only 1 barrel this season), the changes he has made is helping him maximize his skill set. While he has had some luck, his xBA is 285, his xSLG is .463 and his wxOBA is .343 which means even if things regress to his contact profile, he's still a better than league average hitter with elite defense. 

Publishing the full post/version of this on my Blog tomorrow likely if anyone does care to read it.

Good observation with the bat angle at contact. Classic teaching was always level bat, level shoulders at impact and for preteen kids that is still a good cue but most good hitters use a vertical bat angle downward of like 30-40 degrees on contact. Robert also does that very well.

I'm using that also a lot with the more advanced kids I'm working with, bat sensors like blast are also able to measure that.

This can create issues on higher pitches but the big advantage of that is that you can hit lower pitches straight at a good angle while the classic flat bat at contact often creates roll overs on low pitches.

There are still good flatter bat guys like bregman but they tend to be high ball hitters.

Engel is obviously not that good but I would be fine if he was a league average hitter the next 2 years combined with his defense.

Edited by Dominikk85

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Engel doesn't even have to "figure it out".  He can be a 40 to 45 hitter, and still be a guy who has value to a team because of his ability to play a 65-70 CF and play all 3 OF positions well when called on.  He also has at least plus speed and skills on the basepaths when needed.  With guys like Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez on the roster he has a valuable skillset even if he isn't starting.

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Good stuff. This is the kind of content I like to read here, along with the FutureSox breakdowns.

 

10 hours ago, Dominikk85 said:

Engel is obviously not that good but I would be fine if he was a league average hitter the next 2 years combined with his defense.

I think Engel is a 3+ WAR player if he's a league average-hitting CF

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1 hour ago, almagest said:

Good stuff. This is the kind of content I like to read here, along with the FutureSox breakdowns.

 

I think Engel is a 3+ WAR player if he's a league average-hitting CF

Yeah, I think Engel's issue is he gets a ton of value from his glove and Robert plays the more valuable position in CF. Engel loses a little playing right, as he still doesn't have big power and his arm is good but not great for RF. He's still a + on the bases too, but his batted ball profile still isn't great and he has a history of falling into bad habits. I hope he has figured it out because he really is a great athlete, but he's always been kind of robotic as a hitter.

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57 minutes ago, Look at Ray Ray Run said:

Yeah, I think Engel's issue is he gets a ton of value from his glove and Robert plays the more valuable position in CF. Engel loses a little playing right, as he still doesn't have big power and his arm is good but not great for RF. He's still a + on the bases too, but his batted ball profile still isn't great and he has a history of falling into bad habits. I hope he has figured it out because he really is a great athlete, but he's always been kind of robotic as a hitter.

Adam Eaton played 121 games in RF in 2016 and amassed 6.6 bWAR with a .790 OPS (2.3 defensive WAR). I think you normalized Engel's numbers this year to ~.800 OPS in your article, and even with the improved overall offensive numbers since 2016 I'd easily take this out of RF going forward with his defense. If Engel turns into a 3-4 WAR player (I doubt he will but dreaming about players turning into stars is like 80% of why I'm a baseball fan) that'd be a nice offset to some of the pitching injuries and lack of OF development we've seen in the minors.

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Engel's 2020 splits

So, as eminently predictable, Engel hasn't "figured it out."

July wRC+: 234!!!

August wRC+: an Engelesque 69.

 

He simply won't become a 3+ fWAR player. He isn't a solution as part of a RF platoon. He simply is what he is: a glove-first AAAA type who can be a defensive sub, an occasional pinch runner, and a Sunday Lineup CFer for the MLB minimum. That is, IF this manager can use him appropriately, and not overuse/overexpose him.

Edited by Two-Gun Pete
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2 hours ago, Two-Gun Pete said:

Engel's 2020 splits

So, as eminently predictable, Engel hasn't "figured it out."

July wRC+: 234!!!

August wRC+: an Engelesque 69.

 

He simply won't become a 3+ fWAR player. He isn't a solution as part of a RF platoon. He simply is what he is: a glove-first AAAA type who can be a defensive sub, an occasional pinch runner, and a Sunday Lineup CFer for the MLB minimum. That is, IF this manager can use him appropriately, and not overuse/overexpose him.

...why isn’t he a solution as part of a platoon? He has still produced really well against LHP this year, after the same last year.

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