Chicago White Sox: For Yoan Moncada 2019 was just the start

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Yoan Moncada #10 of the Chicago White Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The White Sox defeated the Yankees 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Yoan Moncada #10 of the Chicago White Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The White Sox defeated the Yankees 5-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago White Sox are still very much in their rebuild. But this season has yielded some exciting bright spots that signal the light at the end of the tunnel for Chicago.

Tim Anderson and Lucas Giolito have broken out and Eloy Jimenez has shown solid development as a hitter. While all solid players that the Chicago White Sox expect to be big contributors to their next contending team, none are more important than Yoan Moncada‘s breakout this year.

Moncada was the diamond of the Chris Sale trade with the Boston Red Sox, at one point in time being ranked the top prospect in all of baseball.

But in his first full season with the White Sox in 2018, Moncada hit just .235 and led the league in strikeouts with 217. Understandably, there was worry about Moncada’s development as well as the direction of the rebuild if he couldn’t improve.

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But prior to the 2019 campaign, the 24-year-old switch hitter moved back to his natural third base position and then exploded at the plate.

Going into play on Wednesday Moncada was slashing .301/.358/.532 with 23 homers.

What gives? How does a player make such a drastic jump?

For starters he became more aggressive at the plate but made more contact, swinging at more pitches in the zone and striking out less. Between 2018 and 2019, Moncada has cut his strikeout rate by six percent.

But this might be just the tip of the iceberg for the Chicago White Sox stud third baseman.

Sure he’s playing like an All-Star and will be in contention for a Gold Glove come season’s end, but there is still more Moncada can improve on.

Yes, he cut down his strikeout rate, but even with that Moncada is striking out 27.5% of the time. Of course, when you get the sort of batting line he’s putting up you can live with that, but on the flip side, Moncada’s walk rate is still not great.

Actually, it dropped from last season, from 10.3% in 2018 to just 7.8% this year. Come this Winter the Chicago White Sox will continue to stress the importance of plate discipline with Moncada, trying to boost the walk rate more than anything.

Now let’s get to the splits. Moncada is a switch hitter, who in previous seasons had struggled mightily as a right handed hitter ( .209/.287/.297) and was noticeably better as a lefty. That changed this year.

As a lefty Moncada is slashing .319/.376/.573 with 19 of his 23 homers coming from the left side. That’s also good for an OPS of .950 which would put him at 13th among all MLB batters, tied with Nolan Arenado (you may have heard of him).

From the right side, Moncada is slashing .259/.315/.437 for an OPS of .752.

Now for some context. Across the league what is considered “average” is .253/.323/.436 and a .759 OPS.

SO from the right side of the plate, Moncada is just about league average.

And from the left side he’s “LOL good luck.”

He’s already an All-Star caliber player, so if he can take just another small step forward as a right handed batter Moncada could be receiving MVP votes.

With the jump he made this year, now it’s just tweaks, which there’s no reason to think he can’t make. The strikeout rate is already dropping, the walk rate we already know has been and can be better, his percent of hard-hit balls (95+ MPH) is climbing and will likely continue to.

Between his bat and his very very good defense at third base Moncada is already at 4.6 WAR for 2019 according to Fangraphs…his career WAR before this season was 3.2.

Next. MLB home run record crushed last night. dark

The most important part of all of this is that Moncada is just 24 years old. He hasn’t even hit his prime yet and is breaking out. Now we wait and see just how high the ceiling is.