White Sox: Is this the Real Yoan Moncada?
The big question with Moncada’s current performance is, can it continue? Is this new, better version of Moncada here to stay? A lot of data seems to say that much of his current performance is sustainable. Fangraphs calculates a few different stats which can sort of estimate luck for a player. The first of these is BABIP. That stands for Batting Average on Balls in Play. This is the batting average for a player during all at-bats which are not home runs or strikeouts. League average BABIP typically sits around .300. The higher the number, usually the luckier the player is. It certainly isn’t perfect, but can give an estimate for sustainability.
Moncada has a .370 BABIP this season. This is not a sustainable number. The only player in baseball history with a career BABIP of over .370 is Ty Cobb. This does not mean that Moncada has been incredibly lucky though. Faster players like Ichiro with good bat control can maintain high career BABIP numbers. Ichiro had a .338, well over the typical league average.
Mike Trout, Christian Yelich and Joey Votto are all active players and have a career BABIP over .350. Faster players who can beat out infield contact, players with good bat control, and players that hit the ball hard all can have a much higher than league average BABIP. Slow players who are easy to shift against typically drag down the league average BABIP. For example, Kyle Schwarber has a career .269 BABIP.
Moncada for his career has a .345 BABIP. He has played long enough to show that that is not a small sample size. According to Baseball Savant, Moncada has the seventh highest average exit velocity in baseball for any player with at least 10 batted ball events with a 95.5 exit velocity. Moncada is tied for 22nd in speed down the first base line. He has reached 90 feet in 3.81 seconds.
His top end speed isn’t quite as impressive, but he has reached 27.6 feet per second this year, ranking him tied for a spot in the top 100. Do you know who else has exactly those same numbers? Reigning NL MVP Yelich. It’s true. Both Yelich and Moncada have the same sprint speed, exit velocity, and ninety-foot split. Long story short, Moncada’s current BABIP is unsustainable. He has probably been a little lucky, but the profile of his speed and strength are very similar to a player with one of the best BABIP numbers of all time.