White Sox: Can Yoan Moncada Succeed As Leadoff Hitter?

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: Yoan Moncada
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: Yoan Moncada /
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White Sox will start their upcoming season with young second baseman hitting leadoff. This is currently the team’s best option at top of the lineup.

Yoan Moncada will begin the 2018 season hitting leadoff for the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day. After a solid end to his 2017 season, Moncada will get the opportunity to hit at the top of the team’s lineup to start the year.

The White Sox will face the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday, and the team is coming off a strong end to its spring training. After scoring 32 runs in their final three exhibition games, the White Sox will open the season with some positive momentum on offense. Moncada had hits in seven of the team’s final 10 Cactus League games hitting leadoff.

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Moncada had three multi-hit games in that span, and also had two hits in the White Sox exhibition win over the Charlotte Knights on Monday night. The White Sox will rely on Moncada to be their leadoff hitter to start the year, and if his last few games during spring training are any indication, he could have a successful season hitting at the top of the order.

Last season, Moncada got off to a slow start in his second Major League stint. Through the end of last August, Moncada was hitting just .198. There were some White Sox fans who were wondering if the former top prospect was a bust. However, despite the impatience of some, Moncada had a good end to his first season with the team. In September, Moncada hit .274 with five home runs, 11 RBIs, two stolen bases and nine walks.

Moncada would end his first season with the White Sox hitting .231 but had a solid on-base percentage of .338 and a .412 slugging percentage. The 22-year-old was able to get on base at a nice rate despite a low batting average due to his ability to take walks. Although Moncada struggled with hitting consistently, he had 29 total walks last season. He had 13 walks last August, despite hitting just .238 that month.

The White Sox will need Moncada to get on base often to give the team a better chance at scoring with Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu hitting behind him. Moncada’s ability to get on base through hitting and walks will help the Sox greatly to begin this season. If there’s one thing that could prevent Moncada from being successful leading off, it would be strikeouts.

Moncada was able to get on base often through walks, but he struggled at times last season with strikeouts at the plate. In 2017, Moncada had 74 total strikeouts for a 32 percent strikeout rate. However, Moncada’s walk rate was12.5 percent. In spring training, Moncada had 19 strikeouts for a 28 percent strikeout rate. He had eight walks for a 12 percent walk rate.

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If Moncada can get his strikeout rate under 27 percent, he can have a better opportunity of getting on base more often this season. The Sox don’t have many better options to hit leadoff currently, so Moncada could have more time to find success at the top of the order this year. If Moncada is successful, expect the Sox to have a solid offense in 2018.