White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada is a totally different hitter compared to last year. Is his current great performance real? Could he get even better?
The White Sox have shown some tremendous flashes this season. Some young players have showcased the potential which has made White Sox fans so excited over the last couple of years. The most notable of those is the highlight of the Chris Sale trade in 2016, Yoan Moncada. What has happened with Moncada this season? Why has he been so much better? Where have all the strikeouts gone?
Last year Yoan Moncada had the third highest strikeout rate in baseball behind the recently zero for his last fifty-four at-bats Chris Davis and a reincarnated Adam Dunn, also known as Joey Gallo. It’s still early, but according to Fangraphs Moncada has cut his strikeout rate from 33.4 percent in 2018 to 24.7 percent this year Overall MLB hitters have struck out in 23.4 percent of their plate appearances before this past Monday’s slate of game. Essentially, Moncada went from an almost historic number of strikeouts in 2018 to a league average amount in 2019.
There’s a stat from Jeremy Frank on Twitter which is truly amazing. “Yoan Moncada struck out looking 85 times last year (most in the 21st Century, likely most ever). This year, he went his first 86 plate appearances before striking out looking for the first time. Entering Sunday’s game he was one of only seven qualified hitters without a ꓘ.”
Many people felt as if Moncada had a very small strike zone last year and that he was called out on strikes much more frequently than he deserved. Well, this year that is a non-issue. Hard to get called out on strikes when you’re swinging with two strikes.
Moncada still has not been very good in two-strike counts. Most hitters aren’t. Last year there were only two players in MLB who had 200 or more plate appearances with two strikes who had an OPS of over .800. Only one hitter had an average of .300 or better in two-strike counts. So far this year Moncada has hit .174/.174/.348 with two strikes just before this past Monday. That’s…. Not very good. It is a large improvement over his .110/.212/.204 stat with two strikes last year though.