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Yoan Moncada entered the Oakland series in a tailspin of sorts. He was hitting .184/.298/.306 with a strikeout rate of 42 percent and rising.
All it took Moncada was one big series at the Coliseum to get him back to where he was last year. He went 5-for-14 with two homers, a double, two walks and three stolen bases.
- 2017: .231/.338/.412, .327 wOBA, 104 wRC+
- 2018: .222/.329/.429, .337 wOBA, 114 wRC+
This three-game stretch has an underbelly, in that Moncada struck out in five of those 17 plate appearances, and he’s whiffed at least once in 12 straight games. (Then again, I’d argue that a 29 percent strikeout rate is aspirational for him.) He also faced three right-handed starters, so it played in his favor. He’ll come home to face Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers in the Houston series. Two talented righties sandwiching a Cy Young-winning lefty is a lot to handle in a series, and it could set him back if they’re able to capitalize on his flaws.
Moncada’s season is bound to be uneven, and that’s a difficult thing for certainty-starved fans to handle. His game right now leaves things to the imagination, and that imagination can carry the ball in the wrong direction when the Sox are adding a 10th year to the postseason drought.
But Gordon Beckham could not pull the ball in the air as majestically and violently as Moncada can.
He similarly reaffirmed in Oakland that he can take advantage of batteries that can’t hold runners, and that his athleticism extends to defense.
Just your casual, bases-loaded, game-saving 4-3 putout. https://t.co/bHIwa27JWI
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 19, 2018
If you had to trace the leading source of dissatisfaction with his game, you can pretty much quarantine it to his performance against left-handed pitching. He’s hitting .261/.358/.522 against righties, which is an All-Star level of production. He’s hitting .118/.250/.176 with 10 strikeouts in 20 plate appearances against lefties, which is late-stage 2017 Adam Engel.
If the White Sox could treat Triple-A like simulated games and have Moncada come to bat seven times a game versus a left-handed pitcher, they might be tempted to send him down for a spell. But when you see him pull off a series like he did against Oakland, where he provided regular reminders of his league lead in exit velocity and put his speed to optimal use, it shows what the Sox are thinking: He’s too talented to make meaning of the minors.
So his struggles are going to have to play out in front of everybody, with the hope that batting him leadoff is a way to get him the most reps in the shortest amount of time. Assuming Moncada hovers around this level of production, it’s then up to fans to realize that Moncada’s athleticism allows him to be a rosterable and startable despite glaring gaps, and at Moncada’s age and experience level, that’s superior to needing multiple iffy areas to break the right way just in order to be average.
Tim Anderson’s doing what he can to help.
And y’all worried about bra? .. lol for what?? The Kid Good 🔥💪🏾 https://t.co/mY7XunAPtn
— S E V E N (@TimAnderson7) April 19, 2018