White Sox second baseman having a hard time leading off to begin the season. The former top prospect leads the team in strikeouts.
Chicago White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada is off to a rough start to begin the 2018 season. The 22-year-old hasn’t adjusted well to hitting leadoff, and has looked lost at times at the plate.
The White Sox are currently in the second year of their rebuild, and are 4-8 through 12 games. Moncada began the season hitting leadoff but hasn’t provided the team with any spark at the top of the lineup. Through 12 games, Moncada is hitting .184 with an incredibly-high 24 strikeouts. Moncada has walked just eight times thus far.
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With the White Sox struggling collectively on offense over the past week, Moncada hasn’t been able to get on base as often as a leadoff hitter should. In his past seven games, Moncada has struck out more than four times in four of those contests. He’s struck out three times in three consecutive games.
Currently, the White Sox don’t have many internal options to hit leadoff. Tim Anderson has struggled to hit leadoff in the past, and Yolmer Sanchez isn’t much of a base-stealing threat to be at the top of a lineup. Adam Engel hasn’t been able to replicate his spring training success at the plate to start the season.
If the White Sox remain with Moncada hitting leadoff, he will need to limit his strikeouts and get one base more often. Although this a rebuilding season for this franchise, Moncada along with other youngsters on the team, still need to develop at the major league level. The White Sox can’t afford for Moncada to lose confidence if he continues to struggle hitting leadoff.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria chatted with Moncada after the team’s 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins. After another three strikeout performance, Renteria wanted Moncada to understand he’s not a finished product. According to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune, Renteria wanted Moncada to understand he still needed to focus despite his struggles.
"“He’s by no means a finished product, and I want him to understand he’s not a finished product. But I want him to understand there are certain things you have to do. You have to maintain focus, and if you’re not hitting, you’ve got to catch the ball. And if you’re not catching the ball, you better hit. But you can’t fail at both, because then there’s a problem. So a lot of it has to do with learning, focusing and continuing to concentrate.” Rick Renteria"
Along with his struggles offensively, Moncada has also struggled in situations where the White Sox have needed to score. In the team’s 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, Moncada failed on a suicide squeeze bunt attempt. Omar Narvaez was later tagged out in a rundown after Moncada couldn’t execute on the bunt.
The White Sox still have a lot of games to play this season, and Moncada certainly has time to put together a good year. Many fans might start to believe Moncada isn’t any good, but its far too early to give up on the former top prospect. This team isn’t expected to contend, and there will continue to be growing pains throughout this rebuild.