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.
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.